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Russia Beat Croatia to Reach Last Eight at Fed Cup
Sun Apr 27,11:05 AM ET Add Sports - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By Gennady Fyodorov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Anastasia Myskina clinched Russia's place in the Fed Cup quarter-finals with a 6-2 7-5 win over Croatia's Iva Majoli on Sunday.

The victory gave the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead over the Croatians in their World Group first round tie at Moscow's Druzhba Sports Hall.

Myskina and Elena Dementieva beat Matea Mezak and Darija Jurak 6-4 6-4 in doubles in the fifth and final rubber to complete a 4-1 victory for Russia.

The Russians will face unseeded Slovenia, who beat Argentina 3-2 on Saturday, in the last eight in July.

In an erratic first set of Sunday's opening singles match, both Myskina and former French Open (news - web sites) champion Majoli struggled to find their rhythm as there were five consecutive breaks of serve.

Myskina, who held serve in the second game, was finally able to hold once again to claim the first set 6-2 in just 25 minutes.

The pattern continued in the second set, but this time it was Myskina who experienced greater problems with her service game. However, the Russian number one bounced back to win five of the last six games to seal the tie for the hosts.

"I usually have a strong return game, but I always have trouble with my serve and today was no different," Myskina said.

"But, fortunately for me, I was able to hold my serve at the key moments."


Majoli, who struggled on Saturday in her opening singles match against Dementieva, was pleased with her improved performance against Myskina.

"I played a bit better today and my racket was fine," said the 25-year-old from Zagreb, who complained of a loosely-strung racket in Saturday's match.

"But she (Myskina) played well today. I had some chances in the second set and, if I won that set, I could have turned the match around. But she was just too strong today."

In Sunday's second singles match, Karolina Sprem earned Croatia a point by beating Russian substitute Elena Likhovtseva 6-4 6-3 in the dead rubber.

"I was really pumped up for that match," said the 18-year-old Croatian. "Although the overall result didn't mean a thing, it was my first win in Fed Cup and it meant a lot to me."

Likhovtseva replaced Dementieva to give the 21-year-old Muscovite a rest, as she was still suffering jetlag after returning from the United States.

On Saturday, Myskina overcame a concentration lapse midway through her match to defeat Sprem 6-1 3-6 6-0 while Dementieva trounced Majoli 6-1 6-4 to put Russia in command.
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