Moscow: Dominika Cibulkova rallied to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in the opening singles on Saturday to give Slovakia a 1-0 lead over Russia in the Fed Cup World Group semifinals. Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia was scheduled to play Maria Kirilenko in the second singles match on indoor clay at Krylatskoye Ice Stadium.
Pavlyuchenko broke decisively in the 11th game to take the first set. Cibulkova led 4-0 to comfortably win the second, and she broke in the seventh game of the decider before closing it out on her first match point when Pavlychenkova returned wide. "I wasn't aggresive in the first set and the real match for me started from the second set," Cibulkova said. "I found my rhythm and served much better. I can say it was an extremely tough match."
Pavlyuchenkova, who won her fourth career title two weeks ago at Monterrey in Mexico, said she couldn't find her rhythm and struggled with the switch from a hard court to clay. "It was a tough match, both physically and mentally," Pavlyuchenkova said. "Dominika has played a very good match. After making quite a number of double faults in the first set, she improved her serve in the second set and gave me practically no chance in the third."
Four-time champion Russia has reached the semifinal stage for the seventh consecutive year. Slovakia is in its first since winning the title in 2002. The winner will face two-time defending champion Czech Republic or Italy in the final on Nov. 2-3.