Russia reaches Fed Cup final with comeback win over Slovakia
Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina won the decisive doubles match Sunday as Russia completed a 3-2 comeback victory over Slovakia to reach the Fed Cup final.
Slovakia won the first two singles on Saturday to take a 2-0 lead but Maria Kirilenko and Makarova won the reverse matches to level the series before the Russians rallied to beat Dominika Cibulkova and Daniela Hantuchova 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 on indoor clay at Krylatskoye Ice Stadium.
Kirilenko beat Cibulkova 7-5, 6-1 in the first reverse singles before Makarova downed Hantuchova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Four-time champion Russia will travel to face either the two-time defending champion Czech Republic or former champion Italy in the final on Nov. 2-3.
The Slovak doubles pair saved three break points before breaking the Russians in the 10th game to win the first set. But the experienced Russian duo, ranked third by the WTA, broke them twice in the second set and completely dominated the decider, clinching the win on their second match point.
"I think we did very well. In the first set we played great and we were very close," Hantuchova said. "Sometimes in sports you can do your best and you can try whatever but it doesn't work your way. We did give our best."
Earlier, Makarova broke Hantuchova twice in the first set and went on to dominate early in the second. But the Slovak veteran seized the initiative by saving a break point in the eighth game before holding. Makarova double-faulted 15-40 in the next game and Hantuchova served out the set to stay in the match. A break up in the third, Hantuchova was broken to love in the ninth game when she double-faulted. Makarova held to go 5-4 up, and Hantukova saved three match points in the next game before the Russian clinched the victory with a forehand down the line.
"It was a very tough match, very emotional one," Makarova said. "I do not remember ever screaming `come on' in any of my matches or even in my life."
In the first match of the day, Kirilenko broke in the 12th game to take the first set. Cibulkova opened the second with a break, but the Russian broke back immediately and won the rest of the games, serving the match out at love.
Kirilenko said that she moved and played much better than she did on Saturday and a phone call from her husband-to be, Washington Capitals' forward Alex Ovechkin, helped her a lot.
"Those were the words of a real champion and I told myself - I'm no worse," Kirilenko said.
Cibulkova said she hadn't recovered from Saturday's three-set match against Pavlyuchenkova.
"In the second set I felt like my energy was gone," Cibulkova said. "And Maria took advantage of it 100 percent. The match was not going my way today and it was really tough on the court."
Russia reached the semifinals for the seventh consecutive year, while Slovakia played in its first since winning the title in 2002.