U.S. earns Fed Cup final against Italy
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Liezel Huber sent the United States into the Fed Cup final with a 6-3, 6-1 doubles victory over Russia's Elena Dementieva and Alla Kudryavtseva yesterday.
The Americans will meet defending champion Italy for the second straight year in the final Nov. 6-7 at an undetermined site in the United States. The U.S. has won a record 17 times.
Mattek-Sands beat Ekaterina Makarova, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, earlier yesterday to keep the U.S. title hopes alive. Dementieva's 7-6 (7-4), 0-6, 6-3 win over Melanie Oudin had put the Russians up 2-1.
"I was able to get the crowd behind me," Mattek-Sands said. "I was really pumped. I always want to win, whether it's playing singles, doubles or charades. I was ready to go."
Mattek-Sands became the first American to win consecutive live matches — fourth singles and then doubles — to close out a Fed Cup match since the best-of-five format was adopted in 1995.
Captain Mary Joe Fernandez (1996) and Lindsay Davenport (1995) are the only Americans to win two last-day live matches.
Barcelona Open: Spain's Fernando Verdasco beat Robin Soderling of Sweden, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, to win the Barcelona Open yesterday in Spain.
Verdasco ensured an eighth straight Spanish winner after topping the second-seeded Soderling in a matchup of baseline groundstrokes.
The fifth-seeded Verdasco broke Soderling on consecutive service games to take the first set before faltering in the second set to even the match.
Verdasco scored the decisive break in the fourth game of the last set when Soderling hit wide. Verdasco served out the match for his second title of the season.
Verdasco lost last week's Monte Carlos Masters to Rafael Nadal, who had won the Barcelona Open for the past five years.
Rome Masters: Fourth-seeded Andy Murray will face a tough crowd in his opening match at the Rome Masters against top Italian, Andreas Seppi.
The 49th-ranked Seppi beat another Italian — Fabio Fognini — 6-0, 6-3 in one of three first-round matches yesterday.
Murray and Seppi will play tomorrow inside the new 10,500-seat stadium at the Foro Italico.