Rubin wins, but Raymond falls for U.S.
INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Chanda Rubin wasted three match points before to beat Barbara Schwartz as the United States split the opening-day singles with Austria 1-1 in a Fed Cup quarterfinal Saturday.
Rubin needed 2½ hours to beat Schwartz 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 in the first match between the teams since Austria stunned the 17-time Fed Cup champions in Charlotte, N.C., in 2002.
Barbara Schett then tied the match, beating Lisa Raymond 6-2, 6-4.
On Sunday, Schett faces Rubin, while Schwartz, the hero of several recent Fed Cup upsets by Austria, will play Raymond.
In doubles, Martina Navratilova and Raymond, a U.S. Olympic team, will face Schett and Patricia Wartusch.
In other Fed Cup quarterfinals Saturday, France took a 2-0 lead over Italy 2-0; Argentina and Russia split 1-1; and Belgium took a 2-0 lead over Spain. (Details below.)
Rubin sailed through the first set on the slow, red clay that favors the Austrians, then let a 5-1, 40-0 second-set lead slip away.
She acknowledged being being stunned at the turnaround, and she was broken at love to close out the second set.
"It's definitely tough when you lose a big lead and match points," Rubin said. "I think the key was I got my composure back for the third set. I felt like it was a stretch run and I was the better player."
In a seesaw final set, Rubin broke Schwartz's serve to take a 4-3 lead.
"It's been five months since I played and won, so it was definitely a good feeling," said Rubin, who earned her first win in just three matches since being sidelined by a knee injury.
Raymond hit a forehand wide to end the match against Schett, who was boosted by playing in her hometown.
"She came out playing very loose in front of her fans and family," Raymond said. "But tomorrow is another day."
Schett believes her match with Rubin on Sunday could be the decisive one.
The Americans believe they have an edge in the match comes down to doubles.
"The American team definitely feels comfortable if it comes down to that situation," captain Zina Garrison said.
Rubin ran her Fed Cup record to 8-2, taking over as the American's top player in the absence of the Williams sisters, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati.
Rubin and her teammates believe that having the big names missing has helped them grow close and more determined to bring home the first Fed Cup title since the U.S. squad beat Spain four years ago.
"You have to use all the energy you can out there," she said. "It was a nice feeling to have the team behind you."
When the Austrians pulled off the biggest triumph in their Fed Cup history by beating the United States 3-2 two years ago, Schwartz upset Monica Seles and Meghann Shaughnessy.
It appeared Schwartz could repeat that magic, especially when she wiped out the three match points.
Schwartz, cheered by 1,000 Austrian fans, suddenly lifted her game. She fought off two of the match points by blasting a powerful volley, then followed with an unreachable drop shot.
The 25-year-old, ranked 324th, has had several elbow and wrist operations in recent years. Before that, she had a promising career, beating Venus Williams en route to reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open in 1999.
The match is being played at a spectacular setting, with the court set up at the bottom of a ski jump slope, which has a breathtaking view of the picturesque resort town of Innsbruck.
Russia, Argentina even
French Open champion Anastasia Myskina dominated Natalia Gussoni 6-3, 6-0 Saturday to help Russia earn a 1-1 split with host Argentina on the first day of their Fed Cup quarterfinal tie.
In the early match, Gisela Dulko put the hosts in the lead by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 on clay at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.
The reverse singles and doubles will be played Sunday, with the winner facing either Austria or the United States in the semifinals.
France up 2-0 on Italy
Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce gave defending champion France a commanding 2-0 lead against host Italy in the Fed Cup quarterfinals.
Mauresmo cruised to her 11th consecutive Fed Cup singles win with a 6-2, 6-1 victory against Silvia Farina Elia and Pierce beat the higher-ranked Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4.
Sunday's reverse singles and doubles will determine the winner of the best-of-five match tie.
The winner of the tie meets Spain or Belgium in the semifinals.
Belgium takes 2-0 lead on Spain
Kirsten Flipkens and Els Callens each won three-set matches to give visiting Belgium a 2-0 lead over five-time champion Spain in their Fed Cup quarterfinal tie.
Flipkens upset Spanish No. 1 Anabel Medina Garrigues 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-2, and Callens downed Virginia Ruano Pascual 2-6, 6-4, 11-9.
In the second match, Ruano Pascual and Callens battled it out for more than 3½ hours, ending well after midnight. The third set alone took more than two hours.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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