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MENAFN - Arab News - 10/02/2014
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(MENAFN -Arab News) PARIS: Australia after a lengthy absence, and Germany coasted into the FedCup semifinals on Sunday, with holders Italy on the verge of joining them.The Italians are well in command of their tie with the United States, leading 2-0 overnight in Cleveland.Rain in Seville forced the completion of the other tie between Spain and the Czech Republic to be held over until Monday, with the hosts annexing the only rubber to have been completed on Saturday.In Hobart, Australia ensured their place in the next round for the first time in 21 years with a crushing Samantha Stosur-inspired 4-0 defeat of Russia.The 2011 US Open champion added to her Saturday singles win when seeing off FedCup newcomer Victoria Kan 6-2, 6-3 in Sunday’s opening rubber to secure an unassailable 3-0 lead.Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua sealed a clean sweep over the Russians with an emphatic 6-1, 6-3 doubles win over Irina Khromacheva and Valeria Solovyeva.Dellacqua said she and Barty had both had a “great week.”“We are going to play a lot together. Last year she was only a baby, but she’s 18 soon, she’s becoming an adult and we’re going to play a lot together and hopefully continue to improve on what we did last year.” “We’re still in it, so we have a chance to win it,” Stosur said of Australia’s prospects of claiming the title for the first time since 1974.First though they will have to overcome Germany, waiting for them in the semis.The Germans, who were last crowned champions in 1992, qualified after Angelique Kerber defeated Slovakia’s Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) in the first of the reverse singles in Bratislava.Kerber was supplying her team with their second point having defeated Daniela Hantuchova 7-6 (11/9), 6-1 in the second of Saturday’s two singles, after Andrea Petkovic had saved a match point en route to a 1-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2 win over Cibulkova.“I had so much emotion from the team,” Kerber said.“It was tough, so I was just trying to play point-by-point. I think I played well, I moved well, I mixed it up well, sometimes aggressive, sometimes defensive, and I’m so happy that we’re now through.” This is the first time Germany have graced the last four since 1995..The winner of this will face either Italy or the USA in the April 19-20 semifinals.Monfils triumphs Montpellier, France, Gael Monfils won his second Open Sud ATP event, beating his fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet in straight sets in Sunday’s final.Monfils, who won the event in Montpellier for the first time in 2010 and was a losing finalist in 2012, overpowered the defending champion Gasquet 6-4, 6-4.It was the fifth title of Monfils’s career.The strong-serving 27-year-old dominated throughout. Monfils did not face a break point in the entire game, hit nine aces to zero and twice as many as winners — 34 to 17 — as his opponent.The win also maintains his good start to the season, as he looks to reignite a career blighted by injury.Monfils took the first set in 32 minutes, breaking Gasquet in the seventh game and then held his serve to go one up.The second set followed a similar pattern to the first with Monfils breaking this time in the ninth game, having squandered three break points in the first.Monfils, currently ranked 30th in the world from a career high of seventh, took time to thank “medical staff” for his victory.“Basically, I did not think I was going to play in this tournament and it is strange that I have ended up the winner,” said the Parisian.Gasquet, who hails from the town of Beziers close to Montpellier, is the current French number one and has Spain’s Sergi Bruguera as his new coach, said he could not put his opponent under any pressure.“Obviously I am disappointed to have lost but Gael played well.” Monfils and Gasquet, the current world number nine, have now met ten times with Monfils winning on six occasions.


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