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Romania stun champions Czech Republic in Fed Cup

AFP  |  Paris 

reached semi-finals for the first time on Sunday with a 3-2 win over defending champions as and stunned and winners and in a marathon doubles decider.

Begu and Niculescu triumphed 6-7 (2/7) 6-4 6-4 in a thrilling in Ostrava which lasted just seven minutes short of three hours.

Krejcikova and Siniakova, the world's leading pair, trailed a break early in the final set before hitting back to 4-4. But the Romanian pair broke straight back for 5-4 before Begu, ranked at 35 in doubles, served out the tie.

The result ended the 10-time champions Czechs' hopes of making semi-finals for an 11th successive year and represented their first home defeat in a decade.

Earlier won the battle of the former world number ones with an epic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 triumph over Karolina Pliskova, the Czechs' highest-ranked in the absence of world number three

"I am happy to have won against such a tough opponent," said Halep after winning her second singles of the weekend.

"It was my best and biggest win in " Siniakova, who won both her singles rubbers in the 2018 final triumph over the United States, pulled the Czechs level by seeing off Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-4, 6-2.

champion Halep had said that winning a first Fed Cup for was now the top priority on her "bucket list" having finally broken her Grand Slam drought in last year.

will now travel to in April's semi-finals while the other last-four clash sees up against either the or

In Liege, crowned her comeback from a two-year Fed Cup exile by leading past and into a fourth semi-final in five years.

French number one Garcia brushed aside Belgium's top 6-2, 6-3 to follow her opening day three-set win over Her win gave two-time champions an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie before grabbed a consolation point in the dead doubles

"Two years is not that long in a career," said Garcia who opted out of the Fed Cup in 2017 following an ugly public spat with her teammates.

"But I always said that I would come back and that it was important to me."

At in North Carolina, notched up a 10th successive win in the tournament by seeing off Madison Keys 6-4, 6-1 to give a 2-1 lead over 18-time champions the

then levelled the tie when semi-finalist, making her Fed Cup debut, saw off 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

coasted into the semi-finals when world number nine Aryna Sabalenka defeated 6-1, 6-1 for an unassailable 3-0 lead over in Braunschweig.

"I am so happy and our team is so happy. It's unbelievable to win," said the 20-year-old Sabalenka who dropped just five games in four sets all weekend. The semi-finals take place on the weekend of April 20-21.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 11 2019. 10:30 IST