France fights back to beat Italy 3-2 and reach Fed Cup semis
GENOA, Italy (AP) France recovered from 2-0 down to beat Italy 3-2 after a dominant doubles victory on Sunday to reach the Fed Cup semifinals for the first time since 2007.
Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic followed up their earlier singles victories by beating the world's top-ranked doubles pair, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 6-1, 6-2 to complete the comeback.
''I'm so proud of the girls,'' France captain Amelie Mauresmo said. ''They were really able to put some amazing stuff out there on the court, great levels both in singles and in doubles. Really, really impressive the way they took it step by step, that was what I tried to tell them last night.
''It happened the way we were hoping it could happen but not sure it would happen because it's historical for France. They really took control of everything in the doubles match.''
After Italy had taken control of the tie by going 2-0 up on Saturday, France knew it would take something special to record a victorious comeback for the first time in its Fed Cup history.
Mauresmo opted to replace France No. 1 Alize Cornet with Mladenovic in the day's opening singles match and she beat Errani 6-4, 6-3 to get France back into the series, before Garcia recovered from a set down to defeat Camila Giorgi 4-6, 6-0, 6-2.
''It worked out pretty well,'' Mauresmo added. ''I was either going to be a genius or a nonsense captain. It was really the match-up between Kristina's game and Sara Errani's game that made me take that decision. And it worked.''
Garcia and Mladenovic went into the doubles match on a high and took little over an hour to beat a pairing which has won five Grand Slams together, sealing the result with an ace from Mladenovic. It was Vinci's first Fed Cup doubles loss, after 18 victories.
''It's tough to talk right now,'' Vinci said. ''Of course it wasn't a good day for us. It's tough but sometimes it can happen. They played so good, they were unbelievable. We tried our best but it was not enough.
''I tried to stay focused and to play better but it's tough to win when they're playing like this.''
France next faces the Czech Republic.