Fed Cup roundup: Serena leads US past Ukraine; Serbia makes finals
KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Serena Williams defeated Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday to send the United States back into the Fed Cup World Group by clinching a series victory over Ukraine.
Williams' win gave the U.S. an unassailable 3-0 lead. Christina McHale later won 7-5, 6-3 against 17-year-old Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to secure a sweep of the singles matches. Americans Liezel Huber and Sloane Stephens completed a 5-0 rout with a 6-4, 6-1 win over 19-year-old twins Lyudmyla and Nadiya Kichenok in doubles.
Williams was making her first Fed Cup appearance on foreign soil in more than a decade to become eligible for the U.S. team at the London Olympics.
"We're back in the World Group where we want to be and it feels really good to get two points," she said.
Tsurenko frustrated Williams early on with accurate hitting from the baseline on the red clay court.
"What's your problem?" Williams roared at herself after hitting two consecutive aces to prevent a break in the sixth game.
The 22-year-old Ukrainian pressured Williams' serve after giving up a break, but couldn't convert two break points. Williams broke again to take the set.
Williams became more relaxed as the match progressed, breaking twice early in the second set.
"I had a little bit of a slow start, but I just knew that I could keep fighting," she said. "I just want to go out there and be super relaxed. I play better when I'm relaxed."
Tsurenko broke Williams to prevent her from serving out the match at 5-1, but the powerful returning of the 13-time Grand Slam champion helped her break for a third time in the set and clinch the win.
McHale's match with Svitolina was tighter. The 19-year-old American broke once to take a close first set, but breezed through the second.
Serbia beats Russia in semis
MOSCOW (AP) -- Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic won their reverse singles matches Sunday to put Serbia into the Fed Cup final for the first time with a 3-2 victory over Russia.
Jankovic defeated two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-4 to give Serbia an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the semifinal.
Ivanovic had put Serbia up 2-1 on the indoor clay court at the Megasport Arena, rallying to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 in the first reverse singles.
Serbia will face defending champion Czech Republic in the final in November.
Jankovic easily won the first set but was broken in her first service game in the second. She then rallied from 3-0 down, winning five consecutive games and closing out the victory on her first match point.
"It's a historic moment for us," Jankovic said. "I cannot even believe that we are in the final. We came a long way and I'm very happy we were able to win this match."
After Ivanovic dropped the first set, she won 10 consecutive games to go up 4-0 in the third.
"(Pavlyuchenkova) was playing really very, very well," Ivanovic said. "But I'm really happy I managed to get back in the match."
The two teams split the opening singles Saturday. Jankovic won the first point for Serbia, defeating Pavlyuchenkova, but Kuznetsova downed Ivanovic in the second match.
Pavlyuchenkova later teamed with Elena Vesnina to defeat the Serbian pair of Bojana Janovski and Aleksandra Krunic 6-4, 6-0 in the doubles match.
Serbia had reached the semifinals for the first time and, with the two former top-ranked players, was considered the favorite.
Russia, a four-time champion, had beaten Serbia in all three of their previous meetings, but was without its two top players: Maria Sharapova and Vera Zvonareva.
Czech Republic beats Italy
OSTRAVA, Czech Republic (AP) -- Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova used her powerful serve and forehand to clinch victory for Czech Republic over Italy in the Fed Cup semifinals Sunday.
The third-ranked Kvitova beat Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-6 (1) to give the Czechs an insurmountable 3-0 lead and wrap up the best-of-five series on an indoor hardcourt at the CEZ Arena.
The defending champion Czechs will host Serbia in November's final.
"I really wanted to be in the final again," Kvitova said. "It's unbelievable. It was an unbelievable feeling (to win)."
The Czechs beat Russia in last year's final with Kvitova winning both her singles matches.
Sara Errani defeated Andrea Hlavackova 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the second reverse singles later Sunday for Italy's first point, before Hlavackova teamed up with Lucie Hradecka to make it 4-1 after the final doubles against Errani and Flavia Pennetta. Pennetta had to retire at 5-6 because of a wrist injury.
Kvitova converted her second match point with a forehand winner to improve her Fed Cup singles record to 15-4. She has won her last 10 Fed Cup singles matches.
"It was important for me to win; it's a confidence boost," said Kvitova, who has played only three matches - and lost two - on the WTA Tour since she helped the Czechs beat Germany 4-1 in February.
In Saturday's opening singles, Lucie Safarova defeated Schiavone 7-6 (3), 6-1 before Kvitova beat Errani 6-4, 6-3.
Serbia completed a victory over Russia in the other semifinal Sunday.