Kuznetsova and Chakvetadze put Russia in command

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MOSCOW, Sep 15 (Reuters) Svetlana Kuznetsova crushed Mara Santangelo 6-1 6-2 in the second singles rubber today to give Russia a ommanding 2-0 lead against holders Italy in the Fed Cup final.

The world number two overpowered Santangelo on the hard court of Moscow's Luzhniki arena, breaking the 34th-ranked Italian twice in both the first and second sets.

The US Open finalist fired two consecutive aces to end the contest after just 58 minutes.

Earlier, world number five Anna Chakvetadze beat Francesca Schiavone 6-4 4-6 6-4 in the opening singles.

In a match filled with numerous unforced errors, Chakvetadze recovered her poise after going 3-0 down in the third set to earn victory after two hours 15 minutes.

After a slow start, the 20-year-old Russian secured a decisive break in the seventh game and took the first set.

But the combative Schiavone, the heroine of Italy's 3-2 semi-final victory over France in July when she won all three of her matches, fought back in the second.

The momentum shifted in the final set with the 25th-ranked Italian breaking Chakvetadze to go 3-0 ahead before the Russian returned the favour in the fifth game.

Chakvetadze finally found her range and broke again in the ninth game before clinching victory on her second match point.

REUTERS PDS AS2046

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