Johanna Larsson’s fourth rubber victory over Shuai Zhang has earned her team promotion to World Group II in 2011, as Sweden moved into an unassailable 3-1 lead against China in Helsingborg.
Larsson, who also defeated Shuai Peng in the play-off tie’s opening rubber, came from behind against the Chinese No. 2 to 26 62 63.
Earlier in the day, Peng gave China a lifeline by snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against Sofia Arvidsson.
With Sweden holding a 2-0 overnight lead, Arvidsson knew that a win would guarantee promotion for the home team, which has competed in Europe/Africa Zone Group I since 2004.
Arvidsson, who is her country’s most experienced and successful Fed Cup player, having compiled a 36-30 record over 40 ties, served for the match twice in the third set and held eight match points, but Peng wasn’t ready to throw the towel in.
With China staring relegation in the face, Peng dug team to stage a remarkable comeback, winning 67(4) 61 86 as victory arrived when she converted her first match point.
This result made Larsson’s efforts all the more impressive, as the 21-year-old must have been expecting to see her teammate clinch the decisive point.
* The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play-off tie in Helsingborg was originally scheduled to begin on Saturday, but travel complications caused by the recent volcanic ash cloud result in the Chinese team’s late arrival.
SWEDEN defeated CHINA, P.R. 3-2
Johanna Larsson (SWE) d. Shuai Peng (CHN) 62 64
Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) d. Shuai Zhang (CHN) 64 63
Shuai Peng (CHN) d. Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) 67(4) 61 86
Johanna Larsson (SWE) d. Shuai Zhang (CHN) 26 62 63
Xinyun Han/Yi-Miao Zhou (CHN) d. Ellen Allgurin/Johanna Larsson (SWE) 63 62