US to meet Czech Republic in final


AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France — Madison Keys saw off Pauline Parmentier in two sets to fire the United States into the Fed Cup final with a 3-1 semifinal win over France Sunday.

Keys, 13th in the world, defeated the 122nd-ranked Parmentier 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 to earn the defending champions a November clash with the Czech Republic, who eased past Germany 4-1 in the other semifinal in Stuttgart.

Sloane Stephens had put the US on the verge of the final after brushing aside Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-0 in Sunday's first rubber in Aix-en-Provence.

It was world No. 20 Mladenovic who had given France a fighting chance when ending Coco Vandeweghe's 13-match Fed Cup win streak to pull France level at 1-1 Saturday.

But she was unable to repeat those heroics against the US Open champion who had given the Americans their first point when defeating Parmentier 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 in Saturday's opening rubber.

In Stuttgart, Petra Kvitova put the Czech Republic into a sixth Fed Cup final in eight years as her win against Angelique Kerber sealed a 3-1 semifinal victory over Germany.

Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, needed just 58 minutes to power her way to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Kerber and give the Czechs an unassailable lead in the tie.

After the Czechs had gone 2-0 up Saturday, Julia Goerges had earlier given host Germany a brief life-line with a gritty win over Karolina Pliskova.

“I am very relieved. I was getting nervous before this game,” admitted Kvitova following her win having earlier watched Pliskova lose.

“We had a great position from yesterday, I think Julia played a really good match.

“I knew we still needed one point from our last two games and I just did my best.”

The Czechs will meet France or the USA in the November final.

The final doubles tie between Tatjana Maria/ Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Barbora Strycova/ Katerina Siniakova is now a dead rubber.

Goerges had earlier pulled the Germans back into the tie with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Pliskova.

However in the final singles rubber, Kerber failed to match Goerges’ ambition and conceded three break points to Kvitova in the first set.

Kvitova imposed herself on the German in the second set for a convincing win.

The Czech Republic can now make plans for the November final having won the Fed Cup for three straight years from 2014-16 until the USA won the 2017 title.

Australia in World Group

Daria Gavrilova put Australia back into the World Group of the Fed Cup with victory over Quirine Lemoine of the Netherlands in Wollongong Sunday.

The 24th-ranked Gavrilova, who replaced Saturday’s losing teammate Samantha Stosur, beat the 295th-ranked Lemoine 6-3, 6-2 in the fourth singles to give Australia an unassailable 3-1 lead.

Australia’s number one and 19th-ranked Ashleigh Barty had set up the victory with her second convincing win of the weekend, downing Lesley Kerkhove 6-4, 6-2 in the third singles rubber.

Gavrilova later teamed with Destanee Aiava to win the dead doubles rubber, 6-3, 6-2 over Demi Schuuers and Kerkhove to complete a 4-1 win.

Japan pips Britain

Japan plucked victory from the jaws of defeat as the hosts beat Britain 3-2 Sunday to seal a return to the Fed Cup’s elite level after a four-year absence.

Johanna Konta crushed Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-3 to put the visitors on the brink of victory before Kurumi Nara upset Heather Watson 7-6 (11-9), 6-4 to take a see-saw World Group II playoff tie to a deciding fifth rubber.

Konta and Watson looked to be cruising in the doubles before Miyu Kato and Makoto Ninomiya hit back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, ending British hopes of breaking back into the Fed Cup’s top 16 for the first time since 1993. — Agencies