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TENNIS

Slovaks oust Serbs in Fed Cup

Jana Cepelova and Daniela Hantuchova were singles winners Sunday, leading Slovakia past Serbia and into the Fed Cup semifinals.

Cepelova stepped in for an injured Dominika Cibulkova and rallied for a 5-7, 7-5, 11-9 victory over Bojana Jovanovski in the opening reverse singles rubber to give the Slovaks a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five tie before Hantuchova steamrolled Vesna Dolonc, 6-3, 6-2, for the clinching point.

Hantuchova had opened the proceedings on Saturday with a straight-set win over Jovanovski and the Slovaks appeared on their way to a 2-0 lead with Cibulkova just a game away from beating Dolonc. However, a cramp forced Cibulkova to retire and the Serbs squared the series.

Jovanovski tried to carry the fortunate momentum into Sunday's play and was a point away from grabbing a 5-2 lead in the third set, but the 19-year-old Cepelova came back and finally outlasted her injured opponent in 3 hours and 18 minutes. A back injury slowed Jovanovski late in the match.

Hantuchova then easily dispatched Dolonc in 76 minutes to send the Slovaks into an April semifinal against Russia, which outlasted Japan in a 3-2 quarterfinal victory this weekend.

The doubles rubber was conceded by the Slovaks, making the final 3-2.

Serbia, last year's Fed Cup runner-up to the Czech Republic, played this weekend without its top two stars in former world No. 1s Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.