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Pierce sends France into Fed final

Mary Pierce sends France into the Fed Cup final
Mary Pierce sends France into the Fed Cup final

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MOSCOW, Russia -- Mary Pierce edged Russian teenager Vera Zvonareva 6-4 3-6 6-3 to send France into the Fed Cup final against the United States.

Pierce's win gave the French an in surmountable 3-1 lead against Russia, knocking the host nation out of the tournament.

In the earlier match, world number four Amelie Mauresmo overpowered Anastasia Myskina 6-7 6-3 6-4 to put France in control.

The French victory was especially sweet for team captain Guy Forget, who avenged last year's defeat to his Russian counterpart Shamil Tarpishchev in the Davis Cup final.

Then, the Russians upset the defending champions 3-2 in Paris as newcomer Mikhail Youzhny came from two sets down in an epic five-set battle against Paul-Henry Mathieu to clinch the win.

Pierce, the former French and Australian Open champion who has not represented her country in Fed Cup since the 1997 final when France beat the Netherlands, was just too experienced for the 19-year-old Russian, playing only her third Fed Cup match.

Lisa Raymond and Martina Navratilova won the Fed Cup doubles
Lisa Raymond and Martina Navratilova won the Fed Cup doubles

Afterwards, Pierce credited Forget for her victory. "At the end of the match Guy told me to be more aggressive and just go for my shots. For some reason I wasn't aggressive enough and he reminded me of that," said Pierce

Russia achieved an air of respectability when Myskina and Nadia Petrova teamed up to beat Emile Loit and Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-3 1-6 6-3 in the doubles rubber to leave the final score 3-2.

The appearance of a Clijsters wasn't enough to save Belgium from a 4-1 defeat by the U.S. in their Fed Cup semifinal.

Lisa Raymond earned a decisive 3-1 lead for the Americans with a 6-2 6-1 win over Elke Clijsters, the 18-year-old sister of world number two Kim.

Els Callens had raised hopes of a Belgian rally by beating Meghann Shaughnessy in the day's opening match.

Veteran Raymond was untroubled by Clijsters, a late replacement for world junior number one Kirsten Flipkens, using her superior power game to seal victory in just 47 minutes.

Flipkens was beaten 6-7 7-6 9-7 by Shaughnessy in a grueling three-hour match on Wednesday and was rested by captain Ivo Van Aken.

Raymond then teamed up with Martina Navratilova to beat Clijsters and Caroline Maes 6-1 6-4 in the doubles. The 47-year-old Navratilova is unbeaten 38 matches in Fed Cup competition.

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