Fed Cup: France and Belarus lead 2-0; Czechs and U.S. tied

Victory salute Simona Halep celebrates after seeing off Katerina Siniakova

On Sunday, Romania earned a place in the Fed Cup semifinal with a win over the defending champion Czech Republic.

Three-time Fed Cup victor Karolina Pliskova yesterday said the 2018 season was a "tough" grind but reaching Singapore for the season-ending championships and a top-10 finish put a smile to her face after a struggle at the start of the year.

Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova, the reigning Wimbledon and French Open women's doubles champions, won the first set on a tie-break but Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu rallied to pull off a shock with a 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-4 triumph that sealed a 3-2 victory for Romania. "It was my best and biggest win in the Fed Cup". After dispatching Katerina Siniakova in straight sets, Halep won a crucial three-set rubber over Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

In Asheville, North Carolina, Danielle Collins, who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open, leveled the match at 2-2 after a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Daria Gavrilova.

Karolina saved a match point to prolong the encounter but that was all she could do, allowing Simona to seal the deal with a hold at 15 in game ten, firing a service victor in the last point to push Romania 2-1 up before the remaining rubbers.

"But I always said that I would come back and that it was important to me".

The Australian Open semifinalist, tabbed as the No.1 player for the 11-time champions when Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova withdrew from the tie, served six aces and saved all three break points she faced in the match against the World No.29.

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Barty then teamed with Priscilla Hon to beat Collins and Nicole Melichar 6-4, 7-5 in the decisive doubles.

Belarus is in a similarly strong position, thanks to Aliaksandra Sasnovich's 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 success over Tatjana Maria in Braunschweig combined with Aryna Sabalenka's 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Andrea Petkovic.

Australian Open quarter-finalist Ashleigh Barty beat American Sofia Kenin 6-1 7-6 (7-2) before world number 17 Madison Keys defeated Kimberly Birrell 6-2 6-2 to pull the U.S. level. "It's unbelievable to win", said the 20-year-old Sabalenka who dropped just five games in four sets all weekend.

The unseeded Romanians will now meet France in the final four in April and will feel confident of going all the way if Halep can maintain her excellent record in the tournament.

In Liege, Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet put France in a commanding position on Saturday against Belgium before Garcia presented the third point today, ousting Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-3 in 77 minutes for the tenth singles rubbers wins in 14 Fed Cup matches, setting the semi-final clash against Romania.

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