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The Star Online: Sports

David Ferrer reaches final at Monte Carlo Masters (Updated)

Posted: 16 Apr 2011 06:35 AM PDT

MONACO (AP): David Ferrer comfortably beat seventh-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-3, 6-2 to reach the final of the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time on Saturday.

The fourth-seeded Spaniard will bid for his 12th career title against either top-ranked Rafael Nadal or third-seeded Andy Murray in the final. They were to play their semifinal later Saturday.

Ferrer sealed the win when Melzer, who beat 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, tried a crosscourt winner and the ball looped out after clipping the net.

Ferrer, the Australian Open semifinalist, has won two titles this year, on hard courts in Auckland, New Zealand, and on clay in Acapulco, Mexico.

The Spaniard started slowly, taking 10 minutes to hold his opening serve, before Melzer broke him in the third and held for a 3-1 lead.

But after Ferrer broke back to 3-3, Melzer became nervous.

He fell 15-40 down on his next service game at 4-3 down, and a double fault gave Ferrer a 5-3 lead. Ferrer then held to love, clinching the set when Melzer's two-handed backhand slumped into the net.

Melzer looked uncomfortable from the start of the second set, awkwardly holding his first service game, and Ferrer pounced on his nervousness to take a 5-2 lead.

With Ferrer serving for the match, Melzer suddenly found some form, winning one point with a superb volley on the run. The Austrian had two breakpoints and managed to save a matchpoint but Ferrer eventually closed it out in 1 hour, 18 minutes.

Ferrer is through to his second Masters final, having lost the Rome Masters on clay to Nadal last year.

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Fed Cup: Russia leads Italy 1-0 (Updated)

Posted: 16 Apr 2011 06:02 AM PDT

MOSCOW (AP): Vera Zvonareva defeated Sara Errani in the opening singles 6-0, 6-2 Saturday to give Russia a 1-0 lead over Italy in their Fed Cup World Group semifinal.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova was scheduled to play against Italy's Roberta Vinci in the second singles match.

The third-ranked Zvonareva was in full control of the match, with 33 winners to Errani's 9.

"In fact, it was a very tough match," said Zvonareva. "I had to fight for every point, but I've played a very clean match. From the first point to the last, the level of my game was very high. And I really didn't give her (Errani) any chance to get into the game and find her rhythm."

Zvonareva's only slip in the match was in the fourth game of the first set when 40-30 up on her serve, she lost concentration and returned wide twice to give Errani her only chance for a break in the match. But the 43rd-ranked Italian failed to convert.

"I'm really happy that I gave the first point to my team," Zvonareva said.

Zvonareva is back on the team for the first time since the title-winning final against Spain in 2008. She has a 7-2 win-loss record.

Errani landed 82 per cent of her first serves but could not cope with Zvonareva's powerful and long returns.

"It was a very difficult match for me," Errani said. "She (Zvonareva) played very strong all the points and very long also, so it was not easy for me to change the game."

Two-time defending champion Italy is without its two top players.

Francesca Schiavone, the French Open champion, is not playing to concentrate on the clay-court season. Flavia Pennetta is sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Russia is unbeaten at home in nine ties since losing to France in the 2003 semifinals. The streak includes a win over Italy in the 2007 final.

Russia holds a 4-1 advantage against Italy. Both teams have dominated the Fed Cup since 2004, winning all seven titles between them.

The reverse singles and doubles are scheduled for Sunday.

The winner of the match will play either Belgium or the Czech Republic in the final on Nov. 5-6.

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