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Russia beat Japan 3-2 in Fed Cup first round
Ekaterina Makarova won the second reverse singles match and paired with Elena Vesnina to secure Russia a 3-2 victory.
Moscow: Ekaterina Makarova won the second reverse singles match and paired with Elena Vesnina to secure Russia a 3-2 victory over Japan in the Fed Cup on Sunday. Makarova and Vesnina beat Japan's Ayumi Morita and Misaki Doi 6-2, 6-2.
Earlier Sunday, Morita put Japan in a 2-1 lead by beating Vesnina 6-4, 6-1 in the first reverse singles, but Makarova put Russia back on track by routing veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-1, 6-1. The two teams split Saturday's opening singles when Maria Kirilenko won the first point for Russia by defeating Date-Krumm, while Morita downed Makarova to even the tie at one-all.
The Russian pair of doubles specialists - with both in the top 10 on the WTA Tour doubles rankings - won four consecutive games in the first set and jumped to a 4-1 lead in the second to leave no doubts about the outcome on a hard court at the Olympic indoor stadium. "I really wanted to win this clash to rehabilitate myself for a defeat in today's singles," Vesnina said. "We were a bit nervous at the beginning of the match but in the late stages we found our normal play."
Makarova dominated the match against Date-Krumm with her Japanese opponent able to hold serve only once in each set. "I felt some extra responsibility today as the result of this rubber could have decided the entire match," Makarova said.
Morita broke Vesnina in the fourth game and rallied from 40-love down in the seventh game for a 5-2 lead. The Russian broke back for 5-4 but was broken on her next serve to lose the set. Vesnina, who substituted for originally drawn Kirilenko, broke Morita in the opening game of the second set but Morita dominated the rest of the games and served the match out at love to record her 14th straight Fed Cup victory. "I played well in both my matches here and I'm really pleased with my performance this weekend," Morita said. "The fact that I managed to win two points for my team boosted my self-confidence a great deal."
Vesnina could not match her opponent's form. "She is feeling confident right now and she likes this surface," Vesnina said. "Ayumi is playing her best tennis right now."
Four-time winner Russia was without Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva. Russia will host Slovakia or travel to Serbia in the semifinals on April 20-21.
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