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Kirilenko gives Russia Fed Cup lead

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By SAPA

Moscow – Maria Kirilenko gave Russia a 1-0 lead against Japan in the opening match of their Fed Cup World Group first round tie with a tough straight sets victory over Kimiko Date-Krumm on Saturday.

World number 13, Kirilenko, needed 2hrs 15 minutes to finally get the better of Date-Krumm, running out a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 winner for her first victory over the 42-year-old veteran in three meetings.

“Finally I managed to win a point for my country,” Kirilenko said. “I caught a cold on my return to Moscow from Pattaya (Thailand), but managed to clinch my first ever win over Kimiko (Date-Krumm), who is a very uncomfortable opponent for me.”

“The win in Pattaya boosted my confidence and now I feel myself on the rise. It helped me a lot to win today.”

Kirilenko, who won a WTA tournament in Pattaya last week, looked rusty from the start as she produced a string of unforced errors, allowing Date-Krumm, who is 77th in the world, to break in the opening game.

The 26-year-old Moscow native immediately broke back to level at 1-1, but the evergreen Japanese player broke again in the fifth game to take control of the set.

However, Kirilenko closed the gap again in the 10th game as the set eventually went to a tiebreak that she confidently won by 7-3

for a one set lead in just over an hour.

In the second set, Kirilenko appeared in complete control on the hardcourt surface at the Moscow Olympic arena by breaking her opponent's serve twice from the start for a commanding 4-0 lead.

Date-Krumm refused to go down without a scrap and managed to reduce the deficit with a break in the eighth game but Kirilenko managed to hold onto a narrow advantage and finally closed out the match 6-4 to give Russia the opening point.

The match between Russia's Ekaterina Makarova and Ayumi Morita of Japan will be played later on Saturday, before the reverse singles and doubles on Sunday. – Sapa-AFP

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