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Apr. 25, 1999 9:47 AM

Wagner sends Germany back into Fed Cup elite Reuters

HAMBURG, April 25 (Reuters) - Elena Wagner sent Germany back into the Fed Cup world group one by beating Japanese Miho Saeki in straight sets on Sunday to give the home side a winning 3-1 lead.

Wagner recovered from 5-3 down in the first set to win 7-6 6-3 and seal the world group two first-round tie.

The 22-year-old Bulgarian-born Wagner won a tense tie-break 10-8 to take the first set and then dominated a tiring Saeki.

Andrea Glass had earlier put Germany in the lead by crushing Shinobu Asagoe 6-4 6-3.

Germany and Japan were tied at 1-1 after Saturday's opening singles. Glass beat Saeki and Wagner lost to Asagoe.

Japan's hopes suffered a blow when their top player, Ai Sugiyama, pulled out after twisting her ankle in training. Saeki stepped in to replace her.

Germany were without their best two players, Steffi Graf and Anke Huber, both injured.