DEFENDING champions Russia,Italy and the Czech Republic advanced to the semi-finals of the Fed Cup on Sunday,all completing their wins in reverse singles.
The United States had a tougher time,relying on a doubles win to break the deadlock with Argentina to advance 3-2.
Argentina were thwarted in their aim to equal their best Fed Cup finish,semi-final appearances in 1986 and 1993.
Russia,who have won four of the last five Fed Cup titles,routed China 5-0 with Anna Chakvetadze and Alisa Kleybanova both winning before the doubles team of Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova finished it off on indoor hard courts in Moscow.
Italy eliminated France 5-0,taking an unbeatable lead when Flavia Pennetta defeated a crying Alize Cornet,and the Czechs knocked out 2008 runner-up Spain 4-1.
Melanie Oudin,17,kept the United States alive by rallying to beat Betina Jozami 2-6 6-1 6-2 and level the competition at 2-2. Then Liezel Huber,born in South Africa but a US citizen since July 2007,teamed with Julie Ditty to beat Jozami and Gisela Dulko 6-2 6-3 to give the United States the victory.
The United States have won 17 Fed Cup titles but none since 2000. Serena and Venus Williams were invited to play this weekend but declined,citing scheduling difficulties.
In the semi-finals,set for April 25-26,the Russians will face Italy.