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Williams Girls Secure U.S. Win

Venus and Serena Williams routed their opponents by identical 6-1, 6-1 scores Sunday to clinch a victory for the United States in a Fed Cup semifinal against Italy.

The sisters accounted for the three victories needed to send the United States into the finals in September against Russia, which beat Slovakia 3-2 earlier in the day in Moscow.

Venus Williams swept past Silvia Farina before her sister defeated Rita Grande.

Serena was a replacement for the injured Monica Seles.

The two teams were tied 1-1 after yesterday's opening single matches.

Venus Williams needed only 51 minutes to pound out her victory, winning five games at love in the one-sided match.

Coach Billie Jean King selected Serena Williams, already scheduled to play doubles with her sister, to play singles after Seles was diagnosed with tendinitis in her right arm.

Seles developed several blisters on her left serving hand. The doctor's report said the tendinitis may have led her to change her two-fisted grip, causing the blisters.

Seles was upset in three sets Saturday by Farina, the American's first loss in Fed Cup play.

In Moscow, Tatiana Panova, in tears after her loss the previous day, scored the clinching singles victory that put Russia into the finals.

Panova defeated Slovakia's Ludmila Cervanova 6-4, 6-4 as Russia beat Slovakia 3-2 in their semifinal.

Russia will face the United States on Sept. 18-19 in the finals of the worldwide competition considered the women's version of the Davis Cup.

"Our dream is to play against the U.S. team in the final," Panova said.

In the first match, Russia's Elena Likhovtseva defeated Karina Habsudova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Daniela Hantukova and Cervanova won the doubles, beating Elena Dementiyeva and Elena Makarova 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

After Panova lost her singles match Saturday she said she spent the night in tears and had even asked captain Konstantin Bogoroditsky to replace her.

After Bogoroditsky told her it was too late to switch, Panova said she slept soundly.

She started the match Sunday by losing three games in a row, but then won the set. In the second set, Panova was at match point four times before closing the set.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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