- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) - Four-time Fed Cup champion Russia was on the brink of a surprise first-round defeat to the Netherlands after going 2-0 down on the first day Saturday.

Despite leading Russian Maria Sharapova being scheduled to play only Sunday’s doubles, the home team was expected to win comfortably against a Dutch team it has never lost to, and lacking any players ranked in the top 100.

Instead, the Moscow crowd saw Ekaterina Makarova dominated by underdog Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-4 in the opening rubber. Despite being ranked 75 places behind the 31st-ranked Makarova, Bertens won with an all-action style, recording 16 winners to just four for the Russian.

Things went from bad to worse for Russia in a marathon second rubber, as two-time Grand Slam singles winner Svetlana Kuznetsova was beaten by 141st-ranked Richel Hogenkamp 7-6 (4), 5-7, 10-8.

At exactly four hours, the match was the longest Fed Cup rubber in history.

Hogenkamp served for the match at 5-4 in the decider but was broken by Kuznetsova, who could not turn her momentum into a win and was in turn broken at 8-8, paving the way for Hogenkamp to close out the match.

In Sunday’s reverse singles, Kuznetsova plays Bertens, then Makarova faces Hogenkamp.

Sharapova, making herself rarely available for Russia in order to be eligible for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, was scheduled to partner teenager Darya Kasatkina on Sunday in her Fed Cup debut, against Cindy Burger and Arantxa Rus.

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