U.S., Russia tied in Fed Cup
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Melanie Oudin had emotion and a hometown-flavored crowd on her side. Those advantages just took some time to kick in.
Oudin beat Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-3, 6-3, yesterday after slow starts in both sets. Then Russia's Elena Dementieva evened up the Fed Cup semifinals matchup with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Dementieva, ranked No. 6 in the world, set up a big Sunday rematch with Oudin in the best-of-five match.
The 18-year-old Oudin, ranked a career-best 31st, rallied from two games down in each set to win the match at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena. She fell behind 1-3 and 0-2 to the Russian, who was making her Fed Cup debut.
"She definitely loves playing with emotions and showing her emotion, and she loves the fans," U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez said. "It's something for her that's very natural, it's not something you plan."
Dementieva capitalized on 43 unforced errors by Mattek-Sands in a matchup of players with aggressive styles to win the second singles match. Mattek-Sands is ranked 129th.
Defending Fed Cup champion Italy took a 2-0 lead over the visiting Czech Republic in the other semifinal, where Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone each won in straight sets.
The U.S., which would host the final round Nov. 6-7 at a site to be determined, lost to Italy for the title last year.