Czech Republic, France, Switzerland reach Fed Cup semis

The defending champion Czech Republic, as well as France and Switzerland, all secured spots in the Fed Cup semifinals Sunday.

In Bucharest, Romania, the Czech Republic edged Romania 3-2 on Sunday when Karolina Pliskova teamed up with Barbora Strycova for a 6-2, 6-3 win in the deciding doubles rubber over Romanians Andreea Mitu and Raluca Olaru in just 74 minutes.

In the semifinals, the Czech Republic will meet Switzerland, which edged Germany 3-2 when Belinda Bencic and Australian Open doubles champion Martina Hingis converted four of their five break points to defeat Andrea Petkovic and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-3, 6-2 in the deciding doubles match.

France rolled to the semifinals with a convincing 4-1 win against Italy as Caroline Garcia followed Kristina Mladenovic's earlier win by beating Camila Giorgi 6-3, 6-4. France, bidding for its third Fed Cup title and first since 2003, will play at home when it faces the Netherlands in April.

In the Czech Republic's victory, Pliskova won her singles rubber of the first-round match, defeating Monica Niculescu 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 after playing for more than 2 hours

Earlier Sunday, third-ranked Simona Halep had moved Romania ahead after winning a three-set fight against Petra Kvitova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

In Leipzig, Germany, the 18-year-old Bencic paid tribute to her 35-year-old doubles partner.

"She did all the great volleys and all the doubles stuff. I was just happy I could play with her. I'm not a doubles specialist,'' said the Swiss No. 1, who proved the heroine by upsetting Australian Open singles champion Angelique Kerber 7-6 (4), 6-3 to give Switzerland a 2-1 lead earlier Sunday.

Bencic, ranked 11th, came from 1-4 down to win the first set tiebreak and needed just one match point to seal the win in 1 hour, 32 minutes. She had beaten Petkovic 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday, when Kerber topped Timea Bacsinszky 6-1, 6-3.

Annika Beck pulled Germany level at 2-2 and ensured the first-round contest would be decided by the doubles match when she defeated Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-4 in her Fed Cup debut. No. 2-ranked Kerber appeared out of sorts, perhaps weary just eight days after claiming her first Grand Slam title in a three-set victory over Serena Williams in Melbourne.

In Marseille, France, Garcia had 11 winners and broke Giorgi's serve three times to dominate the match. Giorgi had seven aces but was let down by 13 double faults on her wayward serve.

Earlier, Mladenovic punished some poor serving from Sara Errani to beat the former French Open runner-up 7-6 (4), 6-1 and put France in a strong position after it had lost the opening singles Saturday.

The tie concluded with a doubles match as Mladenovic and Garcia faced Errani and Martina Caregaro. But it was all over in 45 minutes as the dispirited Italians lost 6-0, 6-1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.