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MOSCOW, April 21 Russia came back from the brink to beat Slovakia 3-2 in a dramatic Fed Cup semi-final by sweeping the last three rubbers on Sunday.
Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina secured the winning point for the home team when they outlasted Dominika Cibulkova and Daniela Hantuchova 4-6 6-3 6-1 in the decisive doubles to clinch the two-day tie on Moscow clay.
Earlier in the day, Russia number one Maria Kirilenko beat Cibulkova 7-5 6-1 and Makarova, who replaced Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for the second reverse singles, edged out Hantuchova 6-3 4-6 6-4.
Slovakia, appearing in their first semi-final since 2002 when they went on to win the competition for the only time, led 2-0 after the first day when Cibulkova beat Pavlyuchenkova 5-7 6-1 6-4 and Hantuchova made short work of Kirilenko 6-2 6-4.
The Russians will face the Czech Republic or Italy, who meet in the other semi-final in Palermo, in the November final.
That tie will go into a third day after Czech Petra Kvitova beat Italy's Sara Errani 2-6 6-2 6-0 to leave Italy 2-1 ahead.
Kvitova, who lost every service game against Roberta Vinci on Saturday, finally held at the third attempt against Errani and despite struggling with a shoulder injury she suddenly found her form in the second set.
The former Wimbledon champion began to dominate the contest and although Errani saved three match points Kvitova sealed victory in just under two hours.
Persistent rain had delayed that match by five hours and the singles clash between Czech Lucie Safarova and Vinci will start at 1100 local time on Monday.
If Safarova wins, the tie will go to a decisive doubles. (Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov, editing by Ed Osmond)