Spain, Slovania advance in Fed Cup

Oct. 31, 2002 at 7:49 PM
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MASPALOMAS, Spain, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Slovakia advanced to the Fed Cup finals for the first time Thursday, eliminating Italy thanks to singles wins by Daniela Hantuchova and Janette Husarova.

Slovakia will battle Spain for the Fed Cup after the host nation pulled out a 3-2 victory over stubborn Austria.

Husarova clinched Slovakia's 3-1 triumph with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Francesca Schiavone, who started the tie Wednesday with a surprising straight-sets victory over Hantuchova.

But Hantuchova, the world's eighth-ranked player, gave Slovakia a 2-1 lead with a 7-5, 6-3 triumph over Italian No. 1 Silvia Farina Elia.

"I felt a lot more confident today, a lot calmer, and I was more used to the surface," Hantuchova said. "It was good to be able to win a match for my team."

Hantuchova already was looking forward to facing Spain before Husarova claimed her second win in as many days.

"For me, it would be really exciting to play Spain in the final. They are such an experienced team and they have won it so many times," Hantuchova said. "It would be really unbelievable. Making the final of the Fed Cup doesn't happen every day, so it would be very special."

The Slovakia-Italy doubles match was canceled.

Spain took a commanding 2-0 lead into Thursday's reverse singles matches. But Barbara Schett surprised Conchita Martinez, 7-5, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, and 82nd-ranked Patricia Wartusch recorded a stunning 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

But Schett and Wartusch could not complete the comeback, falling to Martinez and Virginia Ruano Pascual, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, in the decisive doubles match.

"I am very proud to be in the Fed Cup final for the 10th time," said Martinez, who has not lost a Fed Cup doubles match in 12 years, improving to 20-5. "People don't realize how hard this is to achieve, so it means a lot to our team."

Seeking a sixth Fed Cup title, Spain will host Slovakia on Saturday.

"When I walk out onto the court on Saturday, I will have the record for the most ties and the most matches played in Fed Cup with 100. That's something that will go in the history books, and I am very proud of it," Sanchez Vicario said.

Earlier, Martinez gave Spain the first point with a 6-0, 7-5 triumph over Patricia Wartusch in the opening match at the Palacio de Congresos de Pampalomas.

Sanchez Vicario and Martinez are trying to lead Spain to its sixth Fed Cup title. They first claimed the crown in 1991 and are trying to move Spain into the final for the 10th time in 14 years.

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