Dutch shock Rus­sians to en­ter Fed Cup semis

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

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.

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