Dutch shock Russians to enter Fed Cup semis
The Netherlands' dream Fed Cup run continued as Kiki Bertens crushed Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 6-4 in Moscow on Sunday to send the Dutch into the semi-finals of the team competition for the first time since 1997.
Bertens, the highest-ranked Dutch player but still a lowly 106, took her Fed Cup singles record to an incredible 13-1 as she overwhelmed the twice grand slam champion to give the visiting side an unassailable 3-0 lead. "This is unbelievable. I don't think anyone expected that we could win this tie, perhaps we even didn't," she told the official Fed Cup website on Sunday.
World number 17 Kuznetsova, 30, was clearly feeling the effects of Saturday's gruelling defeat against Richel Hogenkamp - a four-hour epic that set a new Fed Cup single record - and was no match for the powerful Dutchwoman who also thumped Ekaterina Makarova in the opening rubber.
Russia, last year's runnersup, were unable to call on Maria Sharapova who was injured.
The Netherlands, under captain Paul Haarhuis, have now won eight consecutive Fed Cup ties despite currently having no player inside the world's top 100.
"The girls did unbelievably well. They inspire me, they surprise me and every time it is a great thrill to be a part of it," he said. "It is quite astonishing, it is the Moscow miracle."
They will face either France or Italy in the semi-finals in April. Defending champions the Czech Republic were also in a dogfight in Cluj where they ended the day at 1-1 against Romania.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the world number nine, hit 46 unforced errors in her 6-3, 6-4 loss to Monica Niculescu, the 37th-ranked player.
Earlier, Karolina Pliskova, one of the stars of the Czechs' 2015 final win against Russia, stunned world number three Simona Halep 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 62. It was 23-year-old Pliskova's first win over Halep in four meetings.