TOKYO -- New Zealand won both singles matches Monday to upset seventh-seeded Italy 2-1 in the opening round of the $323,800 Federation Cup tennis tournament.
New Zealand's Claudine Toleafoa, ranked No. 222 in the world, shook off a five-hour rain delay and cold, windy conditions at the Ariake Colosseum to gain a 6-4, 4-6, 10-8 victory over Sandra Cecchini, ranked 197 places above her.
Belinda Cordwell then delivered the knockout punch with an easy 6-4, 6-1 victory over Raffaella Reggi. Cordwell needed only an hour and two minutes to dispose of Reggi in contrast to Toleafoa's three-hour marathon win.
'It's a very big moment anytime you beat somebody like that,' the 19-year-old Toleafoa said of her victory. 'I've never beaten anybody within the top 100 so it's a huge jump for me.'
Laura Golarsa and Laura Garrone defeated Julie Richardson and Ruth Seeman, 6-2, 7-5, in the consolation doubles match to provide Italy its lone point.
Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova lead the top-seeded United States against Greece Tuesday.
Italy was the only highly ranked team to fall. Second seed Spain, led by No. 5 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, breezed past France 2-0; No. 4 Bulgaria swept South Korea 3-0; No. 6 Soviet Union shut out Switzerland 2-0; No. 10 Australia toppled China 3-0; No. 11 Argentina, playing without Gabriela Sabatini, the world's third-ranked player, swept the Philippines 3-0; No. 12 Canada edged Brazil 2-1 and No. 15 The Netherlands defeated Yugoslavia 2-0.
The importance of Toleafoa's win was not lost on Cordwell, who said her teammate made it easier for her even though Cordwell had played only one tournament in the past four months.
'I think I got any butterflies out of my system in the tournament I played last week,' Cordwell said. 'There was nothing to be nervous about, Claud (Claudine) took care of that.'
Toleafoa led 6-5 in the third set and had three match points with Cecchini serving, but the Italian battled back to even the match at 6-6.
'I was really down after I lost that game and I think it was important for me to keep my concentration after that,' Toleafoa said. She held service to go up 9-8, then broke Cecchini at love to win the match.
Spain's Conchita Martinez, playing on center court, had to come from behind to defeat France's Isabelle Demongeot, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, in 2 hours, 41 minutes, but Sanchez-Vicario, who upset Steffi Graf to win the French Open, took little time in beating Nathalie Tauziat, 6-4, 6-2.
Bulgaria's victory over South Korea resembled a family outing as the Maleeva sisters, No. 7 Manuela and No. 16 Katerina, easily downed South Korea. Younger sister Magdalena, ranked No. 199, is also on the team and mother Julia Berberian is the team's captain.
Katerina beat Im Sook-Ja, 6-2, 6-2, Manuela cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Kim Il-Soon and Manuela and Katerina teamed to take a meaningless 7-5, 6-0 win over Lee Jeong-Myung and Im.