Tennis Tennis

Two tough to handle

U.S., Belgium, France, Russia take 2-0 leads in Fed Cup

Posted: Saturday July 19, 2003 1:06 PM
Updated: Saturday July 19, 2003 10:34 PM

LONDON (AP) -- Meghann Shaughnessy and Chanda Rubin gave the star-depleted United States a 2-0 lead over Italy in the Fed Cup quarterfinals Saturday while Belgium, France and Russia also won both their singles matches.

Belgium got wins from Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters to take the first two matches over defending champion Slovakia; France leads last year's finalist Spain on clay; and Russia took two against Slovenia.

In Washington, Shaughnessy overcame a near collapse in the second set, blowing a 5-1 lead and five match points before beating Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4.

"I got a little bit nervous. ... I started holding back," Shaughnessy said.

Schiavone said she felt the nerves early in just her third career Fed Cup singles match. The Italian, ranked No. 32, had only won five total games in her two previous matches against Shaughnessy.

"I feel my heart go, like, 100 speed," she said.

In the second match, Rubin topped Rita Grande 6-3, 6-3.

Rubin, ranked No. 8, and 18th-ranked Shaughnessy are the headline players on a United States team missing its top stars. Venus and Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati are not playing because of a combination of injuries, prior commitments and disputes with coach Billie Jean King.

Italy is without its top player, Silvia Farina Elia, who has a foot injury.

On Sunday, Rubin takes on Schiavone and Shaughnessy plays Grande. The doubles rubber is Lisa Raymond and Rubin against Tathiana Garbin and Antonella Serra Zanetti.

The winner plays the Belgium-Slovakia winner in the semifinals in November.

In Charleroi, Belgium, French Open champion Henin-Hardenne beat Janette Husarova 7-5, 6-4 before Clijsters defeated Lubomira Kurhajcova 6-3, 6-1.

The tie brought together the Fed Cup champions for the past two years. Belgium won its first title in 2001 with the Slovaks doing the same in 2002.

Henin-Hardenne struggled with her first serve and managed to break Husarova, ranked 66 places below her, in the first set only in the 11th game.

"I was a little nervous in front of the home crowd, but the important thing is that I won," Henin-Hardenne said.

Slovakia was without its top-ranked player, world No. 9 Daniela Hantuchova, who has decided to limit Fed Cup to concentrate on her individual career.

On Sunday, Clijsters plays Husarova and Henin-Hardenne faces Kurhajcova. The two Slovaks will play the doubles rubber against Els Callens and Caroline Maes.

In Oviedo, Spain, Amelie Mauresmo led France to a 2-0 lead over five-time Fed Cup champion Spain.

Spain, a finalist last year, was playing for only the second time in nearly a generation without either of its veterans, Conchita Martinez, who is sitting this tie out, and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who retired from tennis last November.

The mismatch was evident as Mauresmo dominated Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, beating her 6-3, 6-3.

"I was happy to have been able play my normal game," said Mauresmo, who missed Wimbledon with a rib injury.

"I prevented my opponent from playing her game and the errors I made were probably due to not having played many recent matches rather than any lack of concentration."

Teammate Nathalie Dechy got off to a sluggish start against Magui Serna but eventually found her stride with a good offensive game. Dechy won 6-3, 6-4.

On Sunday, Serna plays Mauresmo and Sanchez Lorenzo is against Dechy. The doubles rubber pits Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual against Dechy and Emilie Loit.

In Portoroz, Slovenia, Russia took the lead over Slovenia with wins by Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva.

Myskina beat Maja Matevzic 6-4, 6-1 on the outdoor clay. Dementieva defeated Katarina Srebotnik 6-1, 6-3.

"It was really hot out there on the court," Myskina said. "And at the beginning I was really very nervous. But after a couple of breaks I took some deep breaths and I started to play better. I am really happy with the good start."

On Sunday, Srebotnik plays Myskina, with Matevzic against Dementieva. In the doubles, Srebotnik and Tina Krizan play Elena Bovina and Vera Zvonareva.

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