Fed Cup: Italy beat France, Russia rout China
Russia completed a 5-0 whitewash of an understrength China.
London: Italy silenced an angry French team to set up a Fed Cup semi-final with champions Russia on Sunday.
Russia completed a 5-0 whitewash of an understrength China while Czech Republic beat Spain 4-1 to give them a semi-final place against either the United States or Argentina in April.
Bad feeling between France and Italy continued to simmer on Sunday but it did not stop Italy from romping to an unbeatable 4-0 lead in the first-round tie.
A day after the French asked for Flavia Pennetta's win over Amelie Mauresmo to be overturned, the Italian kept her cool to demolish a tearful Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-2 in Orleans, France.
Sara Errani kept up the winning streak by defeating Mauresmo 6-3, 6-4. Cornet, who struggled to find her service rhythm, burst into tears after being broken for the fifth time in the match.
She was given a point penalty deep in the second set when she contested a Pennetta shot while the point was being played.
Pennetta, who was given a verbal warning and fined $2,000 on Saturday for making an obscene gesture towards the umpire during her match against Mauresmo, ignored the disruption and wrapped up victory in 78 minutes.
On Saturday, France said Pennetta should have been disqualified for showing her middle finger to the umpire but the host team's protest was not heard.
In Moscow, Russia slammed the door on China, who were missing injured number one Zheng Jie.
Anna Chakvetadze thrashed Yan Zi 6-1, 6-2 before Alisa Kleybanova produced an even more emphatic 6-1, 6-1 win over Sun Tian-tian.
"We would have preferred to play France because we (would) play in Moscow...but most likely we'll play Italy on clay, which will be tough for the Russians," Chakvetadze said.
Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova completed the rout for Russia, who are looking to win their fifth title in six years, with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 doubles triumph over Sun and Yan.
The Czechs reached the Fed Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1997 but faced a wait to know the identity of their opponents.
The US and Argentina were level at 1-1 in their tie in Arizona.
Five-times champions Spain had been expected to roll over the Czechs as they had won both of the previous meetings between the teams but the 2008 finalists came unstuck in Brno.
With the tie poised at 1-1 after the opening day's singles, the Czechs strolled to victory in both of Sunday's reverse rubbers and the doubles.
Lucie Safarova completed a miserable weekend for world number 30 Carla Suarez Navarro with a 6-4, 6-3 win while Petra Kvitova secured the winning point by defeating Nuria Llagostera Vives 6-4, 7-5.
Australian Open giant-killer Suarez Navarro, who stormed to the last eight at Melbourne Park after claiming the scalp of Venus Williams en route, was hopelessly outclassed in both of her singles outings against the Czechs.
"The city is different, the play is different, so it is not the same here as in Australia," the Spaniard told Czech Television. "It is a different week and different match."
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