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Cornet Stuns Sveta In Fed Cup

France has built a shock 2-0 lead after the first day of play in their Fed Cup tie in Moscow.

Published February 05, 2011 07:49

Cornet Stuns Sveta In Fed Cup
Alize Cornet
Before today, Alizé Cornet had never won a Fed Cup match - in fact, a couple of tough defeats in the team competition seemed to be a factor in her sudden loss of confidence a couple of years ago. But in Moscow on Saturday she turned things around in spectacular style, defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova 36 63 64 to give France an early lead in their World Group first round clash.

In the absence of her country's Top 20 stars, Marion Bartoli and Aravane Rezai, 67th-ranked Cornet carries the pressure as France's No.1 player this weekend. But despite falling behind a set and 2-0, and rolling her ankle in the decider, the 21-year-old rose to the challenge magnificently.

"When I came back to my chair and to my captain, I didn't know what condition my ankle was in," said Cornet, who showed flashes of her best form by reaching the third round of last month's Australian Open. "But I said to myself, I would rather die than give up on this match, and I would have played with one leg, such was my desire not to retire."

Cornet's teammate, Virginie Razzano, was certainly inspired: Beaten by Maria Sharapova in Melbourne, Razzano turned the tables on the Russian today with an emphatic 63 64 win. The result left Russia one defeat away from being eliminated in the first round for the first time in six years.

Also facing the prospect of April's World Group relegation play-offs are the United States and Slovakia, who both slumped to 0-2, against Belgium and the Czech Republic respectively.

In Antwerp, Yanina Wickmayer got the Belgians off to a flying start when she beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 61 76(6). Although Melanie Oudin rallied in the second set of her match against world No.2 Kim Clijsters, the new Australian Open champion stayed in the driver's seat for a 60 64 win.

In Bratislava, Daniela Hantuchova and Dominika Cibulkova could not withstand the onslaught of Czech lefties Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova. Hantuchova kept it close with Safarova until 5-5 in the first set but thereafter won just one game, falling 75 61. Cibulkova fought bravely against in-form Kvitova but was ultimately overpowered, 62 63.

"I didn't feel that good, that confident on the court," said Hantuchova, who suffered an Achilles strain in Australia, and arrived back home short of matches. "That's not an excuse, I went out there to try my best, but it just didn't work today. When you're playing well, playing at home can give you a real boost, but if you're a bit nervous, it can make things tricky."

The other World Group tie is more evenly poised, with Australia and Italy 1-1 after a thrilling day's play in Hobart.

First Jarmila Groth, making her Fed Cup debut for Australia a month after she won her second WTA Title at the Moorilla Hobart International, scored a career-best win over fourth-ranked Francesca Schiavone, 67(4) 63 63. Then Flavia Pennetta leveled for the visitors by beating Samantha Stosur for the fourth time in four outings, 76(5) 67(5) 64. Stosur actually served for both of the first two sets.

Eight countries are also doing battle in World Group II: Germany and Slovenia; Ukraine and Sweden; Estonia and Spain; and Serbia and Canada. Heading into Sunday's reverse singles, all four ties are level at a win apiece.
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