Dementieva helps out depleted Russian squad

BRINDISI, Italy -- Elena Dementieva
brought champions Russia level 1-1 with Italy after the opening
day of their Fed Cup tie on Saturday when the world No. 5
won 6-4, 6-3 against Tathiana Garbin.

Playing in the Fed Cup for the first time since 2003 in a
weakened Russian team, Dementieva was always in control on the
red clay at Puglia, winning eight of her 11 break points.

Italy had taken a 1-0 lead in the World Group One tie after
Francesca Schiavone beat Dinara Safina 7-5, 6-3.

The Russian squad, which won the competition for the first
time last year, is without French Open champion Anastasia
Myskina, Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova and U.S. Open title holder
Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Schiavone is leading Italy's challenge in the World Group
One tie after their top-ranked woman Silvia Farina-Elia retired
from Fed Cup duty and Falvia Penetta was forced out by injury.

In an enthralling opening match Safina, the sister of Marat
Safin making her Fed Cup debut, showed great promise with
excellent power play in the first set. But the
18-year-old made errors at vital moments.

Safina converted just one of her 12 break points and did not produce a single ace.

"It certainly wasn't as easy as it might have looked from
the stands," Schiavone said. "I was able to put her under pressure though, and I served
well. The match tomorrow should be really entertaining because I
am very motivated for it now."

On Sunday Schiavone takes on Dementieva in what should be
the match of the tie while Garbin and Safina face off in the
fourth singles match.

The doubles features Garbin and Schiavone for Italy, while
Elena Bovina steps in to partner Dementieva for the Russians.

France 1, Austria 1

VIENNA, Austria -- Virginie Razzano, a last-minute replacement for the injured Amelie Mauresmo, defeated Tamira Paszek to give France a 1-1 tie against Austria after the first day of their first-round Fed Cup world group clash.

Razzano's win came after Yvonne Meusburger had given Austria a surprise lead Saturday by defeating 15th-ranked Nathalie Dechy in straight sets. Meusburger won 7-6 (3), 6-2 in a match that lasted almost two hours.

Meusburger, ranked 131st in the world, is leading the Austrian team after the retirement of Barbara Schett and an injury to Barbara Schwartz.

Razzano won 6-3, 6-3 against the 14-year-old Paszek. Mauresmo
pulled out of that match because of an abdominal strain.

On Sunday, the reverse singles will be followed by the doubles,
in which Meusburger will team with Sandra Klemenschits to play
France's Mary Pierce and Razzano.

The French were Fed Cup finalists the past two years and have
never lost to Austria in four previous Fed Cup encounters.

Spain leads Argentina 2-0

JEREZ, Spain -- Nuria Llagostera Vives and Anabel Medina
Garrigues gave host Spain a 2-0 lead over Argentina Saturday in the
first-round Fed Cup world group series.
Llagostera Vives and Medina Garrigues each won by the same
scores -- 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 -- against Argentina's Gisela Dulko and
Maria-Emilia Salerni.
Llagostera Vives, ranked 63rd, made a solid international debut
by beating the 39th-ranked Dulko.
Despite knee trouble, 43rd-ranked Medina Garrigues used her
experience to wear down No. 144 Salerni, breaking her serve to go
up 5-3 in the third set.
Spanish captain Miguel Margets said he felt good heading into
Sunday's matches.
"We have three chances to win tomorrow and it would indeed be
great if we took the first opportunity," he said.