INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Chanda Rubin wasted three match points
before to beat Barbara Schwartz as the United States split the
opening-day singles with Austria 1-1 in a Fed Cup quarterfinal Saturday.
Rubin needed 2½ hours to beat Schwartz
6-1, 5-7, 6-4 in the first match between the teams since Austria
stunned the 17-time Fed Cup champions in Charlotte, N.C., in 2002.
Barbara Schett then tied the match, beating
Lisa Raymond 6-2, 6-4.
On Sunday, Schett faces Rubin, while Schwartz, the hero of
several recent Fed Cup upsets by Austria, will play Raymond.
In doubles, Martina Navratilova and Raymond, a U.S. Olympic
team, will face Schett and Patricia Wartusch.
In other Fed Cup quarterfinals Saturday, France took a 2-0 lead over Italy 2-0; Argentina and Russia split 1-1; and Belgium took a 2-0 lead over Spain. (Details below.)
Rubin sailed through the first set on the slow, red clay that
favors the Austrians, then let a 5-1, 40-0 second-set lead slip
She acknowledged being being stunned at the turnaround, and she was
broken at love to close out the second set.
"It's definitely tough when you lose a big lead and match
points," Rubin said. "I think the key was I got my composure back
for the third set. I felt like it was a stretch run and I was the
In a seesaw final set, Rubin broke Schwartz's serve to take a
"It's been five months since I played and won, so it was
definitely a good feeling," said Rubin, who earned her first win
in just three matches since being sidelined by a knee injury.
Raymond hit a forehand wide to end the match against Schett, who
was boosted by playing in her hometown.
"She came out playing very loose in front of her fans and
family," Raymond said. "But tomorrow is another day."
Schett believes her match with Rubin on Sunday could be the decisive
The Americans believe they have an edge in the match comes down
"The American team definitely feels comfortable if it comes
down to that situation," captain Zina Garrison said.
Rubin ran her Fed Cup record to 8-2, taking over as the
American's top player in the absence of the Williams sisters,
Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati.
Rubin and her teammates believe that having the big names missing has
helped them grow close and more determined to bring home the first
Fed Cup title since the U.S. squad beat Spain four years ago.
"You have to use all the energy you can out there," she said.
"It was a nice feeling to have the team behind you."
When the Austrians pulled off the biggest triumph in their Fed
Cup history by beating the United States 3-2 two years ago,
Schwartz upset Monica Seles and Meghann Shaughnessy.
It appeared Schwartz could repeat that magic, especially when
she wiped out the three match points.
Schwartz, cheered by 1,000 Austrian fans, suddenly lifted her
game. She fought off two of the match points by blasting a powerful
volley, then followed with an unreachable drop shot.
The 25-year-old, ranked 324th, has had several elbow and wrist
operations in recent years. Before that, she had a promising
career, beating Venus Williams en route to reaching the
quarterfinals of the French Open in 1999.
The match is being played at a spectacular setting, with the
court set up at the bottom of a ski jump slope, which has a
breathtaking view of the picturesque resort town of Innsbruck.
Russia, Argentina even
French Open champion Anastasia
Myskina dominated Natalia Gussoni 6-3, 6-0 Saturday to help Russia
earn a 1-1 split with host Argentina on the first day of their Fed Cup
In the early match, Gisela Dulko put the hosts in the lead by
beating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 on clay at the Buenos
Aires Lawn Tennis Club.
The reverse singles and doubles will be played Sunday, with the
winner facing either Austria or the United States in the
France up 2-0 on Italy
Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce gave
defending champion France a commanding 2-0 lead against host Italy in the Fed Cup quarterfinals.
Mauresmo cruised to her 11th consecutive Fed Cup singles win
with a 6-2, 6-1 victory against Silvia Farina Elia and Pierce beat
the higher-ranked Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4.
Sunday's reverse singles and doubles will determine the winner
of the best-of-five match tie.
The winner of the tie meets Spain or Belgium in the semifinals.
Belgium takes 2-0 lead on Spain
Kirsten Flipkens and Els Callens each won three-set matches to give visiting Belgium a 2-0 lead over five-time champion Spain in their Fed Cup quarterfinal
Flipkens upset Spanish No. 1 Anabel Medina Garrigues 7-6 (5),
1-6, 6-2, and Callens downed Virginia Ruano Pascual 2-6, 6-4, 11-9.
In the second match, Ruano Pascual and Callens battled it out
for more than 3½ hours, ending well after midnight. The third set
alone took more than two hours.