In the Federation Cup semifinals played in Birmingham, after the U.S. and Russia split the first two rubbers, Melanie Oudin started out the day with a loss. Elena Dementieva defeated Oudin 7-6,0-6,6-3 to put Russia ahead 2-1. An unlikely savior emerged to pull the Americans through. Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat 6-4,2-6,6-3 Ekaterina Makarova in singles. Then, less than one hour later, Mattek-Sands partnered with Liezel Huber trouncing Alla Kudryavtseva and Dementieva 6-3,6-1 giving the U.S. a 3-2 win over Russia and a berth in the finals.
In the initial match yesterday, after being unsettled in the beginning, Oudin found her game. Oudin took the rubber 6-3,6-3 over Kudryavtseva. However, in the second tie, Dementieva despite the reappearance of her service woes fought off Mattek-Sands to prevail 6-4, 6-3.
Today, the first rubber featured Dementieva and Oudin. After each player was broken five consecutive times, each held sending the first set to a tiebreaker. Dementieva got an initial mini-break, but lost her two service points to give Oudin a 2-1 advantage. Again at 3 all, Oudin connected on a forehand winner for a mini-break lead. However, by forcing a string of errors, Dementieva won the next four points to steal the set.
After opening with a service break, Oudin ran away with the second set capturing it at love. In the decisive third set, Oudin got three successive forehand errors from Dementieva to obtain the break for 2-1. However, by conversely pressuring Oudin into multiple miscues, Dementieva equalized the set at 2 all. On the heels of love hold, Dementieva placed a great return thereby provoking an error from Oudin for break point. When Oudin sliced the backhand into the net, Dementieva went up 4-2. After dismissing two break points, Dementieva threw in an ace to consolidate for 5-2. Later, Dementieva closed out the match with a love game to hand Russia a 2-1 lead.
With the U.S. in a must win position, Mattek-Sands faced Makarova in the next match. After allowing two game points to evaporate and handing the break to Makarova to open the set, Mattek-Sands held serve to keep within striking distance. With Makarova serving at 4-3, using sensational defense, Mattek-Sands enticed a backhand error from her opponent for double break point. With a great return followed by a volley winner, Mattek-Sands leveled the set at 4 all. After wiping out break point and holding, Mattek-Sands erased two game points by Makarova to snatch the set.