Maria Kirilenko had an enormous task ahead of her when she took to the court in Moscow on Sunday afternoon to play against Dominika Cibulkova of the Slovak Republic, to try to keep Russia in the tie. On Saturday, both Cibulkova and Hantuchova won their opening matches to take a surprise 2-0 lead in this semi final.
In the first very tight set which lasted four minutes over the hour there was little to separate these two players. On serve, Kirilenko was to the first to 6-5 and she managed to break the Slovak to take the set 7-5. The scenario was followed again in the second set with both players holding serve until the 4th game when the Russian broke to go 3-1 ahead and she did not give up another game, to take the set 6-1.
With Russian still trailing 1-2 in this rubber, a win for the home nation would mean a doubles match to decide the winner, but if Slovakia could win this final singles match, it would mean a place in the final. 24th ranked Ekaterina Makarova took to the court to do battle with Daniela Hantuchova in this pivotal match – and the Russian broke twice in the first set to close it out at 6-3. In the second set Hantuchova broke twice to Makarova’s once, to take the set 6-4.Hantuchova broke in the first game of the decider, but Makarova broke back to level at 4-4, hold and break again take then take the set 6-4 to even the tie.
The doubles was played between Makarova and Elena Vesnina for Russia and Dominika Cibulkova and Hantuchova for Slovakia. The Slovaks got the break in the 9th game to take the first set 6-4. The Russians got two breaks in the second set to take it 6-3 and leave the spectators biting their nails, but they got an early break in the decider and raced away with the set 6-1 to move into the final.