Dutch defeat Russia in Fed Cup
MOSCOW: Kiki Bertens won a decisive singles rubber in Moscow Sunday, beating Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in straight sets to lead the Netherlands into the Fed Cup semi-finals.
Bertens won 6-1, 6-4 in one hour 26 minutes to give the Dutch squad an unassailable 3-0 lead in the opening round tie at the hardcourts of the Olympic indoor arena.
"Today I felt good, while Svetlana (Kuznetsova) played yesterday a four-hour match," Bertens said.
"And I believed that if I started good and won the first set -- even if it went to a third set -- I believed that my body would feel better than hers.
Two-time former Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova clearly failed to recover from her four-hour marathon defeat Saturday to Richel Hogenkamp, the longest match ever in the Fed Cup.
Bertens grabbed two breaks of serve to take the opening set in 35 minutes.
Then in the second set, 24-year-old Bertens got the break of serve she needed in the seventh game and went on to seal the victory on her second match point with a powerful forehand, which Kuznetsova returned into the net.
Dutch team skipper Paul Haarhuis said he had not expected such an easy victory against last season's runners-up Russia.
"I did not expect a 3-0 win as Russia are a very strong team," he said.
"But our girls played really well, they fought hard. Every day you have the chance to beat the higher-ranked player. That's what the girls believed in and what they've actually done."
On Saturday Hogenkamp beat Kuznetsova 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 10-8 to give the Netherlands a shock 2-0 lead after Bertens overcame Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-4.
After beating four-time champions Russia the Dutch squad will now face the winner of the tie between France and Italy for a place in the Fed Cup final.