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Fed Cup champions Russia crash out to Italy

  • Story Highlights
  • Two-time defending champions Russia bow out of Fed Cup at semifinal stage
  • Russia beaten 3-1 by 2006 champions Italy on Castellaneta Marina clay-court
  • Italy will now host United States, who defeated Czech Republic 3-2, in the final
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(CNN) -- Two-time defending champions Russia have crashed out at the semifinal stage of this year's Fed Cup after losing to Italy on the clay-courts of Castellaneta Marina.

Francesca Schiavone is mobbed by team-mates and coaching staff as Italy reached the Fed Cup final.

Francesca Schiavone is mobbed by team-mates and coaching staff as Italy reached the Fed Cup final.

Italy, the 2006 champions, will now host the United States in the final after Francesca Schiavone's hard-fought 7-6 4-6 6-2 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a result that gave them an unassailable 3-1 advantage and gave them revenge for losing the 2007 final.

World number 44 Schiavone secured her second three-set win of the weekend after Svetlana Kuznetsova had earlier kept Russia in contention for their fourth title in five years with a crushing 6-0 6-3 victory over Italian No.1 Flavia Pennetta.

That victory in the first reverse singles had given Russia hope of reaching another final, but 18-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, who replaced Anna Chakvetadze in the day's second singles, was unable to make a winning debut against a vastly more experienced opponent.

Meanwhile, in the other semifinal in Brno, the United States edged hosts Czech Republic 3-2 after Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands recovered from dropping the opening set to defeat Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke 2-6 7-6 6-1 in the deciding doubles rubber.

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