RIMINI, ITALY: There was almost an upset in what was billed as a one-sided affair as USA's debutants Varvara Lepchenko and Jamie Hampton forced Italy into the doubles rubber in their Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round clash.
World No. 21 Lepchenko won both of her singles matches against Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci to put USA 2-1 up with only two rubbers to play, but Vinci overcame Hampton in three sets to level the tie at 2-2 and force it into a doubles rubber.
In Errani and Vinci, Italy have the No. 1 doubles team in the world, and they showed why, defeating Lepchenko and Liezel Huber in straight sets to send Italy through to the semifinals where they will play Czech Republic in a repeat of last year's semifinal clash.