Switzerland's Martina Hingis serves a ball to Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska during their Fed Cup World Group Playoff tennis match between Poland and Switzerland, in Zielona Gora, Poland, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis played her first competitive singles match since 2007. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

ZIELONA GORA, Poland (AP) -- Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis played and lost her first competitive singles match since 2007 as Switzerland and Poland tied 1-1 on the first day of the Fed Cup World Group playoff on Saturday.


'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands (AP) -- Casey Dellacqua, a late replacement for the injured Samantha Stosur, beat Arantxa Rus in straight sets to draw Australia level with the Netherlands after the first day Saturday of their Fed Cup World Group playoff.
Defending champion Czech Republic took a commanding 2-0 lead over France in the Fed Cup World Group semifinals after Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova won the opening singles matches on Saturday. Safarova saved five match points before beating Caroline Garcia 4-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1 and Kvitova returned from almost a two-month break to defeat Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-4. France is playing in its first semis since 2007.

Julia Goerges of Germany returns a shot to Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia during their Fed Cup semifinal tennis match in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, April 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Artur Lebedev)

Russia was on the brink of making the Fed Cup final with a 2-0 lead after Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova saved a match point to beat Germany's Sabine Lisicki on Saturday. Pavlyuchenkova saved the match point in the second set before going on to beat Lisicki 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3, after Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Julia Goerges in straight sets in the opening rubber.


Serena Williams, left, shakes hand with Mary Joe Fernandez, the United States captain after winning a Fed Cup World Group playoff tennis match against Italy's Camila Giorgi in Brindisi, Italy, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Top-ranked Serena Williams overcame a stiff challenge in the opening set for a 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Camila Giorgi on Saturday to give the United States a 1-0 lead over Italy in a Fed Cup World Group playoff. (AP Photo/Felice Calabro')

Serena Williams' vast experience proved the difference during an extremely tight first set against Italy's Camila Giorgi in a 7-6 (5), 6-2 win for the United States in a Fed Cup playoff. Wearing red, white and blue, the top-ranked Williams was put to the test as she kicked off her clay season in front of a hostile crowd Saturday. ''I competed well,'' the 33-year-old Williams said. I've been working really hard my whole life, so maybe it was just experience.'' Neither player broke serve in the first set, which was only decided when Giorgi missed two straight forehands to end the tiebreaker.


Monte Carlo is not Rafael Nadal's playground anymore, and Novak Djokovic is claiming the throne left vacant by the King of Clay. For the second time in three years, the top-ranked Serb ended Nadal's run at the clay-court Masters tournament, overcoming a strong challenge from the Spaniard to reach the final with a 6-3, 6-3 win. Djokovic, who extended his current winning streak to 16 matches, will face sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych as he bids for a second title in the principality after ending Nadal's eight-year reign in 2013. Djokovic has lost only two matches this year as he reigns over the men's game, raising his hopes that he can knock Nadal off his perch at the French Open, where Djokovic hopes to achieve a career Grand Slam.
Having learned to play on rock-hard cement in Compton, California, Serena Williams could understandably be excused if she didn't like the slow, red clay courts of Europe. After all, Williams has won only two her 19 Grand Slam titles on clay. ''Actually clay is my favorite surface,'' Williams said Friday as she prepared to lead the United States against Italy in the Fed Cup playoffs. ''My clay-court game feels great,'' Williams said.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis will play her first competitive singles match since 2007 in a Fed Cup playoff on Saturday. Hingis was drawn Friday to face Agnieszka Radwanska in the opening singles match when Switzerland plays Poland. The 34-year-old Hingis was chosen ahead of No. 129 Romina Oprandi to support Timea Bacsinszky in singles.
BRINDISI, Italy (AP) -- Top-ranked Serena Williams will open against No. 36 Camila Giorgi on Saturday when the United States meets Italy in the Fed Cup playoffs.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a return to Marin Cilic of Croatia during their quarterfinal match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters tournament in Monaco, Friday, April 17 2015. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

Winning a game against Novak Djokovic these days is quite an achievement. Djokovic won the first eight games of his Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinal match Friday before Marin Cilic managed to hold his serve, raising a thumb in the air to celebrate. The momentum change was short-lived, though, with the top-ranked Djokovic powering his way into the semifinals with a 6-0, 6-3 victory. ''Just all in all it was probably the best match I've played so far in the tournament,'' Djokovic said.


Roger Federer of Switzerland leaves the central court after losing his match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters tournament against Gael Monfils of France, in Monaco, Thursday, April 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka both exited the Monte Carlo Masters in the third round Thursday, and Rafael Nadal continued his road to recovery by overcoming John Isner in three sets. Federer, who played his first tournament in nearly four weeks, made too many mistakes in a 6-4, 7-6 (5) loss to Gael Monfils after Wawrinka - the defending champion - was routed 6-1, 6-2 by Grigor Dimitrov. It's going to take me some time to feel 100 percent comfortable,'' the second-ranked Federer said.


Tennis Hall of Famer Rod Laver, of Australia, accepts the enshrinement certificate for master player Thelma Coyne Long, 94, of Australia, who could not be there in person for her induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. Saturday, July 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

The International Tennis Hall of Fame says that Thelma Coyne Long, an Australian who won 19 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles or mixed doubles, has died. The Hall made the announcement Wednesday. She won two major championships in singles, 12 in doubles and five in mixed doubles. At the 1952 Australian Championships - the tournament now known as the Australian Open - Long won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles.


Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a return to Albert Ramos Vinolas of Spain during their match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters tournament in Monaco, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic won the sportsman of the year prize at the Laureus Sports Awards on Wednesday, while Germany's World Cup-winning squad received the best team award. Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final to win his seventh Grand Slam title and supplant Rafael Nadal as No. 1 in the world. ''In general, it probably has been my best year so far in my life,'' Djokovic, who also won in 2012, said in a video message. He was picked for the Laureus Award over Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, golfer Rory McIlroy, soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, motorcyclist Marc Marquez and pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie.