PARIS: The United States completed a 5-0 sweep of the Czech Republic on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals of the Fed Cup, and all five match victories came courtesy of the Williams sisters.
World number one Serena Williams and number three Venus Williams each won both of her singles matches, then teamed to win the doubles against the overmatched Czechs in Lowell, Massachusetts.
On Sunday, Serena defeated diminutive Klara Koukalova 6-2, 6-2.
That gave the hosts an insurmountable 3-0 lead, which Venus Williams then improved on with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Iveta Benesova that took 53 minutes.
The Williamses completed the formalities with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Bedanova and Eva Birnerova in doubles as US teammates Meghann Shaugnessy and Alexandra Stevenson contented themselves with cheering on their colleagues.
The United States, upset in the first round of the women's international team event last year, advanced to a quarter-final clash with Italy, who beat Sweden 3-2.
But a more intriguing match-up could be further down the road as Belgium moved a step closer to an explosive semi-final clash with the United States with a 5-0 whitewash of Austria in Bree.
Kim Clijsters, the world number two, defeated Patricia Wartusch 6-2, 6-2 to give her team an unassailable lead and a place in the quarter-finals where they will face holders Slovakia who defeated Germany.
Should they get through that, Belgium will almost certainly face the United States, although Clijsters was only looking as far ahead as the next round.
“It's maybe a little soon to look that far ahead but it would be a great match,” Clijsters said.
“Justine (Henin-Hardenne) and I would be really motivated for that one.”
In Ettenheim, Ludmila Cervanova, a late call-up to the Slovakian team, defeated Marlene Weingartner 6-2, 6-1 to put the holders into the next round.
Earlier, Daniela Hantuchova won her second match of the day to put the Slovaks 2-1 up when she defeated Anca Barna 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, following her earlier rain-delayed 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 victory over Weingartner.
France completed a 5-0 whitewash over Colombia in Andrezieux-Boutheon.
Spain saw off Australia 3-2 in Tarragona with Magui Serna sealing victory with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Alicia Molik. – AFP