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United States Advances to Semifinals of Fed Cup

April 24, 2006 12:33 PM

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Jamea Jackson provided the clinching match for the U.S.

Fed Cup rookie Jamea Jackson beat Martina Mueller of Germany 7-6 (2), 6-2 Sunday to put the United States into the semifinals of the World Group.

Jackson's second win in two matches of her Fed Cup debut gave the Americans an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five series before the doubles.

The U.S. team, a record 17-time champion, will meet either Belgium or Russia in the semifinals.

Earlier, Anna-Lena Groenefeld had beaten Jill Craybas 6-2, 7-5 to narrow the U.S. lead to 2-1. Mueller was a late replacement for higher-ranked Julia Schruff, who had cramps during her loss to Craybas on Saturday.

When asked if she'd ever seen Jackson play that well, U.S. captain Zina Garrison said: "Actually, no. I was just hoping that she would play the game she can.

"I am extremely proud of this team.They jelled together well, they had dinner together, they hit together, they wanted to win not only for their country but also for themselves.''

The 19-year-old Jackson is No. 75 in the world, and she became the lowest-ranked American to win a Fed Cup match when she upset Groenefeld on Saturday.

"I've been playing well against top-ranked players in recent months,'' Jackson said. "Martina is tough to play and I struggled a bit in the middle of the first set _ but I kept my head.''

Jackson raced to a 3-0 lead, only to lose the next four. But she recovered to win the tiebreaker and cruised in the second.

Germany captain Barbara Rittner said she had no regrets choosing Mueller to play.

"Julia also got stomach problems during the night and she told me this morning she couldn't play,'' Rittner said. "Martina practiced very well and she won two tournaments in the past two weeks. But I've never seen Jamea play so well as she did this weekend.''

The earlier loss by Craybas had looked to threaten the U.S. team's status. Craybas was promoted to No. 1 on the U.S. team after the withdrawals of the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport.

"Anna-Lena played very well, she served very well and I struggled a little bit with my serve. She took advantage of that,'' Craybas said. "She came out determined to win and she was hot from the start.''

Groenefeld played with confidence on Sunday, even after she dropped serve while trying to close it out. A forehand return winner allowed Craybas to stay in the match.

The American held serve in the next game, as did Groenefeld, and in the next game a double-fault by Craybas gave Groenefeld her first match point. She squandered it with a forehand into the net, but then hit a forehand winner to end the match.

Craybas said she was not surprised Groenefeld had raised her game after losing to Jackson.

"She is No. 14 in the world, today was another day,'' Craybas said.

Craybas, ranked No. 39 in the world, dropped to 1-3 in Fed Cup play




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