HOBART: Australia stormed into the Fed Cup semi-finals yesterday for the first time in 21 years with a commanding 4-0 performance led by two Samantha Stosur wins and a comprehensive doubles display.
Stosur, the world number 16 and 2011 US Open champion, saw off 158-ranked teenager Victoria Kan in exactly an hour, with a straight sets 6-2, 6-3 win over the 18-year-old Fed Cup debutante to secure an unassailable 3-0 lead over Russia.
“I’m very, very happy. She (Kan) can do a lot of different things, she does everything nicely and when she gets older and a little bit more strong I’m sure that will all come together,” said Stosur.
“We’re still in it, so we have a chance to win it,” she added of the Fed Cup.
Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua sealed a clean sweep of the Russians with an emphatic 6-1, 6-3 doubles win over Irina Khromacheva and Valeria Solovyeva.
Dellacqua said she and Barty had both had a “great week”.
“We are going to play a lot together. Last year she was only a baby, but she’s 18 soon, she’s becoming an adult and we’re going to play a lot together and hopefully continue to improve on what we did last year.”
Australia last made the Fed Cup semi finals in 1993, and they haven’t beaten Russia since 1983.
They will meet either Germany or the Slovak Republic, with the Germans currently holding a 2-0 advantage in their tie in Bratislava.
Australia team captain Alicia Molik was delighted with the result.
“The Fed Cup is always a week to get the best out of each other. The support the players give each other has been fantastic this week and I want the girls to continue like this for the rest of the year,” she said.
Australia went into yesterday with a commanding 2-0 lead after Dellacqua downed Irina Khromacheva, the only one of the four Russians who has competed in the world team event before, in straight sets.
Stosur then dispatched little-known 16-year-old Veronika Kudermetova, ranked 650th in the world, 6-4, 6-0.
She had been due to meet Khromacheva yesterday, but Russia reshuffled its line-up to send top-ranked Kan in against the dominant Australian.
Russia, last year’s losing finalists, are without their big names for the clash at the Domain Tennis Centre in Hobart, missing their 13 top players.
Maria Sharapova is currently in Sochi for the Winter Olympics and the new captain, former world number two Anastasia Myskina, opted for four almost unknown players, the highest-ranked of whom was Kan.