- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) - Last year’s finalist Russia suffered a surprise first-round defeat in the Fed Cup on Sunday as the Netherlands built an unassailable 3-0 lead when Kiki Bertens beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-4 in the first reverse singles match.

Russian No. 1 Maria Sharapova had been scheduled to play only the final doubles match because of a shoulder injury. But with tie already lost, she was replaced by Ekaterina Makarova, who teamed with Darya Kasatkina to quickly beat Dutch pair Cindy Burger and Arantxa Rus 6-0, 6-2 to give Russia its only point. The second reverse singles was canceled.

Sharapova had made herself available for Russia in order to be eligible for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Kuznetsova had come into her encounter with Bertens tired from a four-hour marathon loss to Richel Hogenkamp on Saturday, the longest rubber in Fed Cup history. Bertens had dominated Makarova 6-3, 6-4 in the opening rubber.

The Dutch, without a player ranked in the top 100, had been considered major underdogs against a Russian team whose lowest-ranked player, the 18-year-old Kasatkina, is No. 61.

Kuznetsova said she believes Russia sacrificed the Fed Cup so that the players could compete in the Summer Olympics. “It all comes down to the Olympics and these stupid rules,” she told journalists.



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