Russia dethrones Italy, returns to Fed Cup final

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, Last Updated: 1:16 PM ET

Vera Zvonareva put Russia back in the Fed Cup final and ended Italy's two-year reign as champion with a straight-set win over Roberta Vinci in Sunday's first reverse singles match.

Zvonareva posted a 6-4, 6-2 win over Vinci to give the Russians an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinal tie. It was Zvonareva's second win of the weekend, as she also rolled to a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Sara Errani in the first singles match on Saturday.

"I think this is one of the biggest emotions of my life," said Zvonareva after the match. "I haven't played for my country for two years and I really wanted to give this match to my team."

Russia is back in the Fed Cup final for the first time since winning its last of two straight titles in 2008. Italy had won the last two Fed Cup crowns.

The Russians went on to finish off a 5-0 sweep of the semifinal on Sunday.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova took the place of Svetlana Kuznetsova for the dead singles rubber and went on to post a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4) win over Sara Errani for a 4-0 cushion. Pavlyuchenkova then teamed with Ekaterina Makarova for a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 triumph over Alberta Brianti and Maria-Elena Camerin in the doubles match.

The Italians were without their top singles players this weekend in reigning French Open champ Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta. Schiavone, the No. 4 player in the world, decided to skip the event to concentrate on her preparation for Roland Garros, while the 20th-ranked Pennetta has a shoulder injury.

Russia and Italy have combined for the last seven Fed Cup titles. The Russians, in addition to wins in 2007 and 2008, also captured the championship in 2004 and 2005. The Italians won in 2006.

The Russians improved to 5-1 all-time against Italy in Fed Cup play. Italy had won the last matchup in the 2009 semifinals.

Russia will play the winner between Belgium and the Czech Republic in November for the title.


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