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Russia defeats U.S. in Fed Cup

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Even without two injured players, Russia still had enough tennis talent to overcome Venus Williams and the United States, 3-2, Sunday in the semifinals of the Fed Cup at Stowe, Vt.

Russia advanced to the Fed Cup final against Italy, which eliminated France earlier Sunday.

“Their depth is very strong, that’s the difference,” U.S. captain Zina Garrison said. “They can go to almost anyone.”

Nadia Petrova evened the series, 2-2, by crushing Cup newcomer Meilen Tu, 6-1, 6-2, after Williams gave the U.S. the series lead by powering past Anna Chakvetadze, 6-1, 6-4.

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With the outcome on the line, Garrison substituted Williams into the doubles with No. 2-ranked doubles player Lisa Raymond, but it didn’t help as Petrova and Elena Vesnina came away with a 7-5, 7-6 (1) victory.

Tu, ranked 43rd, was playing because Venus’ sister, Serena, pulled out because of an injury last week.

Although the Russians were missing injured Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, they came out with Chakvetadze and Petrova -- ranked eighth and ninth in the world -- and Vesnina.

Fourth-seeded Fabrice Santoro rode his two-handed style to the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships title at Newport, R.I., beating fifth-seeded Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 6-4, in the first all-French final in the tournament’s 31-year history.

Fifth-seeded Paul-Henri Mathieu became the second Frenchman to win the Swiss Open by defeating Andreas Seppi, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, at Gstaad.... David Ferrer beat Nicolas Almagro, 6-1, 6-2, to win the Swedish Open at Bastad.

The Tennis Channel is expected to announce today a six-year rights contract with Wimbledon that takes effect next year. Details of how the Tennis Channel and ESPN will share early-round coverage will be worked out later.

The Tennis Channel’s deal with Wimbledon, besides involving television rights, also gives the network access to the tournament’s library of classic matches and other historic video.

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-- Larry Stewart

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PRO BASKETBALL

Heat’s Mourning says

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he will play next season

Ending nearly three months of suspense about his future, Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning said at his annual Zo’s Summer Groove charity game at New York that he’ll play again next season. “I will be coming back,” Mourning said.

Next season will be his 15th in the NBA, not including a full year he missed because of kidney problems that led to his getting a transplant in 2003.

“It will definitely be my last year,” Mourning said.

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Katie Douglas scored 18 points and Cheryl Ford had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead the East to a 103-99 victory over the West in the WNBA All-Star game at Washington.

Tamika Catchings had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and DeLisha Milton-Jones and Deanna Nolan scored 11 points apiece to help the East hold on after nearly blowing a 12-point lead in the final two minutes.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin of the Sparks had 11 points and nine rebounds for the West.

MISCELLANY

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Finch leads U.S.

to victory in softball

Jennie Finch threw a three-hitter in her longest outing of the year as the United States advanced to the championship game of the World Cup of Softball with a 7-0 win against Canada at Oklahoma City.

Finch struck out eight in six innings and extended her scoreless streak to 19 1/3 innings.

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Earlier in the day, China defeated the Dominican Republic, 3-0.

The third stage of the 44th biennial Transpacific Yacht Race got off to a rocky start as winds of only three to four knots got things off slowly at the Point Fermin start line in San Pedro.

Sunday’s light winds were also bad news for the boats already at sea after their starts Monday and Thursday.


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