France takes stunning lead over Russia

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 2:22 PM ET

Moscow, Russia - Alize Cornet and Virginie Razzano gave France a surprising 2-0 lead over Russia in the Fed Cup quarterfinals on Saturday by beating a pair of players with a combined five Grand Slam titles.

Cornet got it started by rallying for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Razzano completed the stunning day at Moscow's Olympic Stadium with a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over three-time Grand Slam champ Maria Sharapova.

These two nations dominated Fed Cup play a few years back. Russia, a four-time Fed Cup champ, beat the French in the 2004 and 2005 finals, while France topped Russia for its last of two Fed Cup titles back in 2003.

The Russians appeared to have the edge heading into Saturday's singles matches with a former top-five player in Kuznetsova and a former world No. 1 star in Sharapova. Cornet, currently ranked 67th in singles, and the 83rd-ranked Razzano, however, were undaunted.

Cornet was a set and a break down before storming back. A break of serve tied the second set at 2-2 and she broke Kuznetsova again for a 5-3 lead before holding serve to force a deciding third.

The wild third set featured breaks of serve in each of the first six games before Kuznetsova became the first to hold for a 4-3 lead. Cornet then won the next three games to pull off the upset.

"I didn't feel that I would win," said Cornet. "I just tried to fight for every point. And just at the match point, when I finally made the winner and won the match, I realized what I'd done."

Razzano didn't have nearly as much trouble in avenging a second-round loss to Sharapova at the Australian Open. Sharapova managed to convert each of her four break-point opportunities during the 87-minute match, but Razzano countered with six breaks of the Russian star's serve in an error-filled match.

Sharapova committed 46 unforced errors and hit a mere nine winners, while Razzano was only slightly better with as many winners and 29 unforced errors.

Cornet will try to win it for France on Sunday in the first scheduled reverse singles match against Sharapova before Razzano and Kuznetsova square off in the fourth rubber.

Should the Russians rally in singles, the potential decisive doubles rubber is currently scheduled to pit Julie Coin and Pauline Parmentier for France against the Russian tandem of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and former world No. 1 Dinara Safina.

The French are just 3-5 all-time against Russia in Fed Cup play.


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