Italy's Sara Errani reacts after losing a point against France's Caroline Garcia during the first round of the Fed Cup tennis competition between France and Italy, in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Feb.6, 2016. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Claude Paris
February 07, 2016

MARSEILLE, France (AP) Caroline Garcia followed Kristina Mladenovic's earlier win by beating Camila Giorgi 6-3, 6-4 as France clinched a spot in the Fed Cup semifinals on Sunday with a comprehensive 4-1 win against Italy in their first-round tie.

Garcia had 11 winners and broke Giorgi's serve three times to dominate the match. Giorgi had seven aces but was let down by 13 double faults on her wayward serve.

France, bidding for its third Fed Cup title and first since 2003, will play at home when it faces the Netherlands in April.

Earlier, Mladenovic punished some poor serving from Sara Errani to beat the former French Open runner-up 7-6 (4), 6-1 and put France in a strong position after it had the lost the opening singles Saturday.

The 22-year-old Mladenovic was desperate to make amends for her loss to Giorgi the day before, and played aggressively against Errani, who lost both of her matches following Saturday's defeat to Garcia.

''It's a long weekend, that's the beauty of the Fed Cup. I knew I had the mental resources to come back and play,'' Mladenovic said, referring to her loss to Giorgi. ''I'm not saying that it was easy to do. You could see at the start of the match that I was tense.''

Mladenovic won all seven points she played at the net in the first set and broke Errani three consecutive times in the second. After her win, her relief was evident as she jumped into the arms of captain Amelie Mauresmo, the two-time Grand Slam champion.

''When you're a bit tense, it's more difficult,'' Mladenovic said. ''I really tried to fight hard and to do things simply. It was extremely important to win this first set.''

The tie in Marseille concluded with a doubles match as Mladenovic and Garcia faced Errani and Martina Caregaro. But it was all over in 45 minutes as the dispirited Italians lost 6-0, 6-1.

Overall, France now leads Italy 8-3 dating back to their first meeting in 1970, and beat Italy at the same stage last year after trailing 2-0.

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