Czechs edge Belgium to advance to Fed Cup final

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, Last Updated: 2:38 PM ET

Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova sent the Czech Republic into the Fed Cup final with a doubles victory over the Belgian tandem of Yanina Wickmayer and Kirsten Flipkens.

This Fed Cup semifinal came down to the doubles match after the nations split four singles matches over two days, and Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova earned a 6-4, 6-4 victory to give the Czechs a 3-2 win in the best-of-five tie.

The Czechs will play at Russia in the final from November 5-6. The Russians advanced Sunday with a 5-0 romp over two-time defending champion Italy.

After Petra Kvitova and Wickmayer won Saturday's singles matches for their respective nations, the two met in the first reverse singles match on Sunday. Kvitova prevailed with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 triumph to give the Czechs a 2-1 edge, but Flipkens kept the hosts alive with a 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Zahlavova Strycova to force a decisive doubles rubber.

The Belgians had initially slated An-Sophie Mestach and Alison Van Uytvanck for the doubles match, but switched to Wickmayer and Flipkens. The gamble didn't pay off.

Instead, the Czechs will play for the Fed Cup title for the first time as an independent nation. As Czechoslovakia, the nation won Fed Cup titles in 1975, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1988, but had not reached the title series since starting play as the Czech Republic in 1994.

The Belgians won their lone Fed Cup crown in 2001 and lost to Italy in the 2006 final. Kim Clijsters was not available for the host country as she continues to deal with shoulder and ankle injuries that could keep her out of the French Open.


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