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Tennis: Serena gives US lead over Sweden in Fed Cup

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

World number one Serena Williams powered past Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1 Sunday to give the United States a 2-1 lead over Sweden in their Fed Cup World Group playoff.

Williams was still on the court after her dominant victory, which took just 56 minutes, when it was announced that US captain Mary Joe Fernandez would turn to Venus Williams to try to wrap up the best-of-five match tie in the fourth and final singles match against Johanna Larsson.

Serena and her former top-ranked sister Venus are playing Fed Cup together for the first time in 14 months, but Venus had originally been slated only to play doubles.

Apparently, Fernandez didn't think original singles nominee Sloane Stephens had bounced back adequately from her error-strewn 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 loss to Arvidsson in the opening match of the tie on Saturday.

Stephens, the rising US star ranked 16th in the world, had five double faults and 74 unforced errors.

Serena got the 17-time champions back on track with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Larsson that left the tie level at 1-1 after the opening day.

She picked up where she left off against Arvidsson, firing 10 aces and breaking the Swedish woman twice in each set en route to the victory.

Serving to extend the first set, Arvidsson double-faulted to give Williams a break point, then netted a backhand to surrender the frame.

Williams was even more dominant in the second set, racing to a 5-0 lead before Arvidsson finally held serve.

Back-to-back aces gave Williams triple match point, which she converted with another service winner.

"Today I played better -- I had to going up against the number one player from Sweden who had a really good win over our star player in America," said Williams, who stretched her perfect Fed Cup singles record to 10-0.

"It was important for me to take this match really serious."

The US team is trying to avoid relegation to World Group II after losing their 2013 first-round tie 3-2 to Italy in February.

A victory over Sweden would keep the Americans back in the World Group for 2014.

A fifth rubber would be a doubles encounter, with Arvidsson and Larsson scheduled to team against Venus Williams and Varvara Lepchenko.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130421/tennis-serena-gives-us-lead-over-sweden-fed-cup