China on brink of Fed Cup World Group status | india | Hindustan Times
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China on brink of Fed Cup World Group status

india Updated: Jul 15, 2006 12:21 IST
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China's Wimbledon heroes took them to the brink of Fed Cup world group status on Saturday when they took a 2-0 lead in their playoff against a weakened Germany.

Li Na, China's first singles grand slam quarter-finalist at Wimbledon earlier this month, eased past Kristina Barrois 6-3 6-4 before Australian Open and Wimbledon women's doubles champion Zheng Jie downed Kathrin Woerle 6-4, 7-5.

Barrois sought to bridge the 107 ranking places between her and world number 22 Li by making frequent charges to the net in an attempt to disrupt her opponent's rhythm.

But Li soon had the ball cannoning off the rebound surface at the Beijing International Tennis Centre and grabbed a break for a 4-2 lead with a fierce crosscourt winner before twice holding serve to win the set.

Barrois fought back gamely in the second, but ultimately was no match for the power that saw off former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova at Wimbledon and Li put China 1-0 up with a backhand volley.

"I took full advantage of playing at home," Li, who benefitted from a couple of questionable calls in the second set, told reporters.

"After Wimbledon I'm feeling pretty good and I played well today."

Zheng, ranked 34th in the world in singles, also faced dogged resistance from 22-year-old Woerle, but sealed victory by breaking her opponent's serve when the second set looked to be headed for a tiebreak.

Both Germans were making their debuts for the twice Fed Cup champions in the absence of injured world number 16 Anna-Lena Groenefeld.

Should the tie remain alive after Sunday's reverse singles, Zheng will team up with her Australian Open and Wimbledon champion partner Yan Zi against Tatiana Malek and Jasmin Woehr.

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