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Spain outlasts U.S. in doubles to advance to Fed Cup finals

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Spain knocked the United States out of the Federation Cup semifinals Sunday when Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez beat Lisa Raymond and Mary Joe Fernandez 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 11-9 in doubles for a 3-2 victory.

The match lasted 3 hours, 40 minutes and finished under floodlights before a boisterous home crowd waving red and yellow Spanish flags.The victory was revenge for Spain following its 5-0 drubbing by the United States the last time they met in the Fed Cup in 1966.

Spain will play Switzerland for the title in September. The Swiss beat France 5-0.

In the first match of the day, Monica Seles crushed Sanchez Vicario 6-4, 6-0 to give the United States a 2-1 lead. Saturday's play had ended in a 1-1 draw.

Martinez, ranked seventh in the world, averted her team's defeat by downing Raymond 7-6 (7-1), 6-4.

Seles, ranked fifth in the world, dominated her first rematch with No. 4 Sanchez Vicario since the latter beat her to take the French Open last month.

Sanchez Vicario showed her trademark skill in chasing down just about everything, but had trouble holding service. After holding serve to go 2-2 in the first set, she did not manage to do so again for the rest of the match.

In the other singles match, Raymond was serving for the first set at 5-4 but failed to hold service. It went to a tiebreaker in which she was swamped 7-1.

In the second set, down 2-4, she fought back to 4-4. But in the last two games she failed to win a single point.

Spain is a powerhouse in Fed Cup play, winning the title four times between 1991 and 1995.

Switzerland 5, France 0

In Sion, Switzerland, Martina Hingis labored before beating Amelie Mairesmo and clinching Switzerland's first appearance in the final. The 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-2 victory by Hingis gave the Swiss an unbeatable 3-0 lead over defending champion France.

Patty Schnyder, the only player to win five tournaments this year, then completed the 5-0 Swiss sweep, defeating Julie Halard-Decugis 6-3, 6-2 before pairing up with Emmanuelle Gagliardi to beat Alexandra Fusai and Nathalie Tauziat 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the doubles.

The tension between Hingis and her mother, Melanie Molitor, who also was the Swiss team captain, during changeovers was clearly visible, the teenager even flinging a towel back into her mother's face.

Hingis trailed 7-6 (8-6) 4-1 before raising her game to the level that has made her No. 1 in the world.

"I was surprised by the way she played," Hingis said of her French opponent. "I used to wonder with what she beat the other girls. Today, I found out."

The contest marked the first time the two nations met since 1964 when France triumphed 3-0. It is also Switzerland's first time in the world group since 1994.

In qualifying for next year's Fed Cup World Group I, Russia beat Germany 4-1, Slovakia downed Belgium 4-1, Croatia edged the Netherlands 3-2 and Italy downed the Czech Republic 4-1.