Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova propels Russia into Billie Jean King Cup semi-finals
Russia have claimed the first berth in Billie Jean King Cup Finals last four after defending champions France failed to shutout the tie.
With Canada officially out of the event after their second tie, it was between Russia and France as to who would advance from Group A.
Russia were 3-0 in rubbers won while France sat at 1-2. As a result, the 2019 champions could only progress if they swept Russia 3-0 themselves.
The first match of the tie saw world number 77 Clara Burel take on 32nd ranked Ekaterina Alexandrova.
A tumultuous opening set saw six breaks between the two women, Alexandrova eventually prevailing 6-3.
Five more breaks in the second and six in the third brought then saw Burel fight back to secure the win 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, keeping French hopes alive.
Next on court, Alize Cornet took on Roland Garros runner-up and world number 12 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Cornet continued the French push by taking the opening set 7-5. 2-0 France looked a real possibility. But the top-ranked Russian dug in to surge back and clinch victory 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
With the win, Pavlyuchenkova carried Russia to the semi-finals with a doubles rubber remaining in the tie.
In the semi-finals, Russia will face the winner of Group C, USA, Spain or Slovakia. Spain face USA to decide the final results of that group.
Russia are looking to claim their fifth Billie Jean King Cup triumph. Russia were champions in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
Their best results since came as runners-up in 2011, 2013 and 2015. France’s exit means that their defence of the title is over as they fail to add a fourth crown in their tournament history. They claimed the cup first in 1997, then in 2003 and 2019.
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