Billie Jean King Cup: Russia and the United States meet in the semi-finals
Ekaterina Alexandrova lost the opener to Clara Burel, leaving Pavlyuchenkova, the Russian team’s top-ranked 12th-place finisher, to beat 59th-placed Cornet to avoid letting her fate hinge on the double.
Cornet showed heart against the hard-hitting Russian to claim the opening set, but Pavlyuchenkova found some extra gear and more power to edge out a grueling 5-7 6-4 6-2 match.
Pavlyuchenkova broke Cornet’s serve three times in the deciding set and converted her first match point with a clean volley before launching into a jig with teammate Daria Kasatkina on the court.
“I’m really, really tired right now because I gave it my all physically and emotionally,” Pavlyuchenkova told reporters.
“I didn’t feel so good before the game actually, and in the first set I was a bit slow for some reason… but in the end I found this amazing energy and I was kind of like that. of area and ambience.”
Burel and Cornet returned to the court for the double, hoping to at least help France win the tie, but the Russian pair of Liudmila Samsonova and Veronika Kudermetova completely outplayed them in a 6-2 6-1 win.
Under the new tournament format, 12 teams have been split into four round-robin groups and the group winners will advance to Friday’s semi-finals, with the final on Saturday.
The 18-time champions USA were under pressure after losing to Slovakia in their opener and knew that only a convincing victory against Spain would be enough.
Sloane Stephens opened with a 6-4 6-4 win over Nuria Parrizas Diaz before Danielle Collins beat Sara Sorribes Tormo for a singles loss to seal victory in the tie.
A straight-sets win for Spanish pair Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova over Caroline Dolehide and Coco Vandeweghewas was purely academic as Kathy Rinaldi’s USA were assured top spot in the group with a superior set win-loss percentage .
Russia, which won the former Fed Cup four times between 2004 and 2008, will meet the United States on Friday.
Thursday’s action concludes the group match with Australia against Belarus in Group B and Switzerland against hosts Czech Republic in Group D.