U.S. leads Germany 2-0 in Fed Cup

Updated: April 22, 2006, 4:59 PM ET
Associated Press

ETTENHEIM, Germany -- Even captain Zina Garrison was surprised by the U.S. performance at the Fed Cup.

Jamea Jackson won in her Fed Cup debut and Jill Craybas saved a match point before winning to give the United States a 2-0 lead over Germany in the quarterfinals Saturday.

Jackson beat German No. 1 Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 and Craybas beat Julia Schruff 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 to put the Americans one win away from a place in the semifinals.

"To be honest, I figured it would probably be 1-1 after today, but tomorrow is another day," United States captain Zina Garrison said.

The record 17-time champion United States needs to win either of Sunday's reverse singles or the doubles to advance.

"We know it's not over yet," Craybas said.

Garrison was without top players including the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport, and she picked three Fed Cup rookies, including Jackson.

Jackson squandered a 4-2 lead in the final set and fell behind before recovering to win the last two games.

Groenefeld is No. 14 in the world, the highest-ranked player the 19-year-old American has ever beaten. The 75th-ranked Jackson is the lowest ranked American to play a Fed Cup match.

"I have respect for every player out there, but I also have confidence in my game," Jackson said. "I've played well against top women recently."

That was evident from the start. Jackson put the lanky Groenefeld under pressure and cruised through the first set under a cloudy sky on the open-air red clay-court.

"Clay is one of my better surfaces and it was definitely an advantage for me," Jackson said. "She is a big hitter and the clay neutralized some of her power."

Groenefeld was unsteady but appeared to have turned the match when she broke serve in the second set with some powerful ground strokes and served out the set in the next game.

But Jackson took a 4-2 lead in the third set only to see Groenefeld fight back to go up 5-4. Groenefeld then made error after error, including a double-fault that gave Jackson her first match point. Jackson hit a forehand into the net, but two straight errors by the German finally ended the match.

"I just made too many mistakes," Groenefeld said. "I should have come to the net more, I should have tried to dictate the match more."

Craybas, promoted to No. 1 in the absence of other top Americans, won her first Fed Cup match after going 0-2 last year.

She dropped the first set after saving four set points, but then won eight of the next 10 games to tie the match and take a 2-0 lead in the third set. However, Craybas lost her next four service games to give Schruff a match point.

Schruff tried to end the crucial rally with a drop shot, which Craybas returned, and Groenefeld tried a lob that went long. Schruff then dropped her own serve for the third straight game to allow Craybas to tie it at 5.

Craybas finally held and won on her first match point when Schruff's slice went wide.

"I was struggling with my serve from the start, and she was putting pressure on it. She played great, but I came through at the end to hold," Craybas said. "We competed well, it was just a point here or there."

Belgium tied with Russia
LIEGE, Belgium -- French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne beat Nadia Petrova 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3 to keep Belgium tied with Russia 1-1 in the quarterfinals.

Earlier, Elena Dementieva upset No. 2-ranked Kim Clijsters 6-4, 6-3 to give defending champion Russia the early lead.

Reverse singles and doubles are Sunday.

Dementieva, ranked ninth in the world, relied on a patient defensive game and confident baseline shots to wear down the error-prone U.S. Open champion and silence the sellout crowd of 5,000.

"This is a real letdown. For myself and for the public," Clijsters said. "I went for it but I was not aggressive enough."

Henin-Hardenne, ranked fourth in the world, needed to rally to keep Belgium in the running and beat Petrova.

"It was tough after the first set. I fought all the way and it is the only reason I won," Henin-Hardenne said after battling cramps in the decider.

Petrova won the first-set tiebreaker 7-2, and the second set was just as close. The two exchanged breaks midway through the set, but when Petrova served to stay in the set, her resistance cracked, conceding the set with a love game. Crown Prince Philippe was among the crowd at the Country Hall cheering for the Belgians.

Henin-Hardenne raced to a 3-0 lead in the last set before taking the match in 2 hours, 39 minutes.

Spain up 2-0
VALENCIA, Spain, -- Anabel Medina and Lourdes Dominguez won their singles matches to give five-time champion Spain a 2-0 lead over the Austria in the Fed Cup quarterfinals.

Medina cruised to a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Ivonne Meusburguer in two hours, while Dominguez marked her Fed Cup debut with a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 win over Sybille Bammer.

The wins boosted Spain's chances of reaching the semifinals for the third straight year.

Bammer, ranked 60th in the world, fought back after losing the first set but couldn't recover again after being broken in the first game of the deciding set.

"I started a bit tense, but then I loosened myself and the third set was the best of the three," Dominguez said. "I was mentally prepared to play as relaxed as possible and I think that I managed to do it."

Spain and Austria have faced each other twice in the Fed Cup -- Austria won a first-round meeting in 1984 and Spain won a semifinal in 2002.

The winner will play either France or Italy in the semifinals in July.

France, Italy tied 1-1
NANCY, France -- Top-ranked Amelie Mauresmo easily defeated Flavia Pennetta 6-1, 6-1 Saturday to help France tie Italy 1-1 in the Fed Cup quarterfinals.

"I really felt like I dominated from start to finish," Mauresmo said. "The score reflects my domination. I'm happy to bring the two teams even. Sunday is looking difficult."

Italy took an early 1-0 lead after 11th-ranked Francesca Schiavone beat Nathalie Dechy 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3.

"In the first set, I really succeeded in staying in court and not backing up on her powerful shots," Dechy said. "But then, bit by bit, I got less into the ball -- and she was able to develop her game."

The reverse singles are scheduled for Sunday, followed by the potentially decisive doubles of Emilie Loit and Mauresmo against Mara Santangelo and Roberta Vinci.

Two-time champion France, which is missing Mary Pierce and Tatiana Golovin to injury, is unbeaten in six Fed Cup appearances against Italy.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press