Author`s name Alex Naumov

Russia beats USA qualifying for Fed Cup final

Even without two injured players, Russia still had enough talent to overcome Venus Williams and the United States yesterday in the semifinals of the Fed Cup, 3-2, in Stowe, Vt.

Skip to next paragraph Russia will face Italy, the defending champion, in the finals in September.

“Their depth is very strong, that’s the difference,” said Zina Garrison, the United States team captain. “They can go to almost anyone.”

The Russian captain, Shamil Tarpischev, said he could choose from as many as 15 women and still compete for the Cup. The ones who did the damage yesterday were Nadia Petrova and Elena Vesnina.

Petrova evened the best-of-five-match series, 2-2, by crushing Meilen Tu, a Cup newcomer, 6-1, 6-2. Williams had given the United States a 2-1 series lead with a victory against Anna Chakvetadze, 6-1, 6-4.

With the outcome on the line, Garrison substituted Williams into the doubles with Lisa Raymond, the No. 2-ranked doubles player, but it did not help. Petrova and Vesnina came away with a 7-5, 7-6 (1) victory.

Williams, fresh from her Wimbledon victory last week, gave the United States its other point, with a three-set victory over Petrova on Saturday. But Vania King, ranked 84th, lost easily to Petrova.

King and Tu, ranked 43rd, were playing because Serena Williams pulled out last week with an injury.

Although the Russians were missing Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova because of injuries, they had Chakvetadze and Petrova — ranked eighth and ninth in the world.

The United States had beaten Russia four of five times in Cup play, but Russia has won the title twice in three years. The United States has not reached the finals since winning for the 17th time in 2000, The AP reports.

After 41st-ranked Meilen Tu lost to Petrova 6-1 6-2 to level the tie at 2-2, U.S. captain Zina Garrison called on Williams to replace Vania King as Raymond's doubles partner.

Tu, a late addition to the squad for injured Serena Williams, made her Fed Cup debut in place of King, who was beaten on Saturday by Chakvetadze in the first singles match.

Russia captain Shamil Tarpischev was confident about hosting Italy in the Fed Cup final on Sept. 15-16, Reuters reports.

"This match will take place in Moscow," Tarpischev said. "I think we have a better chance against Italy than we had against U.S."

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik

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