Photo: Andrei Golovanov/Sergei KivrinThe Russian team
The semifinal line-up has been decided in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group with Russia set to face Slovak Republic at home whilst holders Czech Republic face a road trip to Italy in the other half of the draw.
The Czech team was already 2-0 up overnight thanks to victories from Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova meaning that Kvitova would return to court to open proceedings on Sunday against Samanatha Stosur knowing that a victory would put them into the semifinals once again and she did not disappoint the home crowd, saving a match point on the way to securing the tie.
Russia had to overcome the loss of Maria Kirilenko due to illness and a 2-1 deficit after the opening reverse singles rubber to progress. Ayumi Morita threatened to be the star for the Japan having won both her singles matches but it was Ekaterina Makarova who stole the show with a crushing victory over Kimiko Date-Krumm followed by a straight sets win alongside Vesnina over Morita and Misaki Doi to bring them back from the brink of a shock defeat. They will be rewarded in the semifinal with a sixth consecutive home tie.
Slovak Republic earned their first semifinal berth since they won the competition back in 2002. It was fitting therefore that Daniela Hantuchova, a veteran from that winning team, took the vital third point. Jana Cepelova came in to replace Dominika Cibulkova for the opening reverse singles rubber and showed great guts to overcome Bojana Jovanovski in a highly charged battle to set up the victory. They now face a Russian side that they have never beaten in the competition in two previous attempts.
The last semifinal spot will be taken by Italy after a thrilling conclusion to a close-run encounter against USA in Rimini. Level at 1-1 going into the final day, it was the Americans who scored the first point as Varvara Lepchenko shocked world No. 7 Sara Errani with a straight sets win. Roberta Vinci brought the hosts level when she outplayed Jamie Hampton in a three set match that ebbed and flowed before pairing up with Errani to clinch victory for the Azurri.
In World Group II there were victories for Switzerland, Sweden and Spain, while Germany also progress to play in the World Group play-offs for the 11th consecutive year. These four teams will join the four losing nations from the World Group in the draw for the play-offs to take place on Wednesday 13 February in London.
Also that day the draw for the World Group II play-offs will be conducted with the World Group II losers from this weekend joined by Great Britain, Poland, Canada and Kazakhstan who won in their respective Zonal Groups this weekend.
The next round of the competition will be played over the weekend of 20-21 April 2013.
For full match reports, photos and audios from each tie please follow the links below:
Czech Republic 4-0 Australia
Italy 3-2 USA
Russia 3-2 Japan
Serbia 2-3 Slovak Republic
World Group II
Argentina 2-3 Sweden
France 1-3 Germany
Switzerland 4-1 Belgium
Spain 3-1 Ukraine