France, Belarus sweep first-round series to reach Fed Cup semifinals


France and Belarus reached the Fed Cup semifinals after sweeping their first-round series on Sunday.

In Liege, Caroline Garcia clinched a 3-0 victory for France over host Belgium after easing past Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-3 to set up a semifinal against defending champion the Czech Republic or Romania.

The Czechs and Romanians split their opening singles in a series in the Czech city of Ostrava.

Garcia marked her return to the Fed Cup for the first time since the 2016 final with a couple of victories after overcoming Alison Van Uytvanck 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-2 in the opening singles on Saturday.

In Braunschweig, Aryna Sabalenka cruised past Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1 to give Belarus an insurmountable 3-0 lead over host Germany in the best-of-five series on an indoor hard court at the Volkswagen Halle.

The ninth-ranked Sabalenka hit 18 winners compared to five for her opponent to help Belarus avenge losing to Germany 3-2 last year in Minsk.

In the final doubles match where the outcome couldn’t change the overall result, Victoria Azarenka teamed up with Lidziya Marozava for Belarus to beat Germany’s pair of Mona Barthel and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-1, 0-6, 11-9 to win 4-0 overall.

The Belarusian team that reached the final in 2017 will face the 2018 finalist United States or Australia in the semis in April. The two are tied at 1 after splitting the opening singles in Asheville.

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