Russia advances past Japan in Fed Cup

Ekaterina Makarova first kept her country alive, then teamed up with Elena Vesnina to give Russia a Fed Cup quarterfinal win over Japan.

The Japanese had grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five tie after Ayumi Morita posted a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Vesnina, a replacement for an ailing Maria Kirilenko, in the opening reverse singles match on Sunday, but Makarova then took things into her own hands.

Makarova thumped Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-1, 6-1, in Sunday's second singles match to force a fifth and deciding doubles rubber. Makarova was not originally slated to play in the doubles, but was called upon to join Vesnina and the duo easily routed the Japanese tandem of Morita and Misaki Doi, 6-2, 6-2, in a mere 65 minutes.

Morita earned both points this weekend for Japan, which was trying to reach the Fed Cup semifinals for the first time since 1996.

Instead, it will be Russia in the semis for a seventh straight year. The Russians lost to Serbia in last year's semis, but won't have a chance to avenge that defeat as Slovakia beat the Serbs this weekend. The Slovaks will visit Russia in April.

Russia, a four-time Fed Cup champ and finalist in 2011, advanced this weekend without top stars Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva.