Australia eye Fed Cup semi-finals

By David Beniuk
Australia eye Fed Cup semi-finals

Australia are in the box seat for their first Fed Cup semi-final since 1993 after Sam Stosur and Casey Dellacqua scored emphatic wins over their young Russian opponents in Hobart.

The home team head into day two of the world group first round tie with a 2-0 lead and a huge psychological advantage over the young Russians after straight sets victories.

Stosur saw off 16-year-old surprise packet Veronika Kudermetova, ranked 650th in the world, 6-4 6-0, the Australian No.1's first victory in a world group match.

Earlier, in-form Dellacqua got Australia off to a flying start with a 6-0 6-2 win over Irina Khromacheva.

Australia last played a semi-final in 1993, when they went all the way to a decider against Spain.

But they are now well-placed for a showdown with either Germany or Slovakia in April and a chance of a first Fed Cup since 1974.

"We've definitely got to stay focused up until we get that third win," Stosur said.

"There's still nothing for them to lose."

The world No.16 didn't have it all her own way against the previously unknown youngest member of a Russian squad missing the country's best 13 players.

With two years left at school, the tall Kudermetova's serves regularly clocked over 180km/hr and a boilover looked possible in a tough first set.

Stosur's experience came to the fore in the end as the Russian's game fell apart, with 40 unforced errors in a match that lasted 56 minutes.

"There's definitely lots of potential there and she looks like a really good athlete," Stosur said.

"Once she can harness all of her abilities then she could be very dangerous."

Russian captain Anastasia Myskina said Kudermetova could lift her ranking at least 300 places in 2014.

"She can do very well," Myskina said.

"She looks when she plays like Maria (Sharapova) a little bit, also really aggressive, good serving, returning."

Dellacqua had too much power for world No.241 Khromacheva, smacking 19 forehand winners in a match that lasted just 58 minutes.

The 28-year-old, who burst back into the top 100 by making the fourth round at the Australian Open, said her grand slam form was continuing.

"It's been a long journey for me to get to this point but I certainly feel like I'm starting to play my best tennis that I've played ever," she said.

"It's a nice feeling actually."

The Australians expect to face a revamped line-up in the reverse singles on Sunday as they seek their first win over Russia since 1983.