Belgium beats U.S. 4-1 in Fed Cup
Australian Open winner Kim Clijsters came from behind to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-7 (10), 6-2, 6-1 Sunday and lead Belgium to a 4-1 win over the United States and a place in the semifinals of the Fed Cup World Group.
After Clijsters gave Belgium an insurmountable advantage, Yanina Wickmayer defeated Melanie Oudin 6-2, 6-0 for a 4-0 lead. The U.S. team secured its only point when Liezel Huber and Vania King beat Kirsten Flipkens and An-Sophie Mestach 6-3, 7-5 in doubles.
Mattek-Sands gave the U.S. team its first set of the weekend when she outlasted Clijsters in the tiebreaker, but the second-ranked Belgian easily dominated the No. 48 from then on.
''It really feels good to see that 3-0 on the board so soon,'' Clijsters said.
It is the first time in Fed Cup competition that the Americans have lost two ties in a row, after being defeated by Italy in last year's final. Belgium will play the Czech Republic in Charleroi on April 16-17 for a place in the final.
After Mattek-Sands lost to Wickmayer on Saturday, with unforced errors costing her throughout, the American was aggressive and precise from the start Sunday. She served for the set at 5-4, but let Clijsters back in for the tiebreaker. Despite the noise from the 10,000 fans at Sports Palace, she didn't crumble in a tiebreaker in which both players had great trouble winning points on serve.
''Against top players, she can play a great game,'' Clijsters said. ''I was just hoping she would not keep it up.''
Losing the first set roused the fighter in Clijsters, and she then took charge, never giving Mattek-Sands a chance in a speedy, high-quality second set.
In the decider, Clijsters immediately broke and continued pressing as errors slipped back in Mattek-Sands' game.
Clijsters had beaten Oudin on Saturday while Wickmayer defeated Mattek-Sands to put Belgium in an ideal position ahead of the final day.