Moscow: Russia's two-time Grand Slam title-winner Svetlana Kuznetsova kept her team in the race for a place in the Fed Cup final by beating Serbia's Ana Ivanovic in a tough three-setter to pull the scores level at 1-1.
Kuznetsova won 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 on one hour 54 minutes on Saturday to record her third head-to-head win over Ivanovic, who is currently 15th in the world, in their 10th meeting.
"All three sets today were completely different," Kuznetsova said. "In the first I was in complete control and took it easily. I was so glad that I found my best tennis that I lost concentration in the second allowing her to level.
"But in the third I was in command again and won the deciding point."
The opponents traded breaks early the opening set but Dubai resident Kuznetsova then took four games in a row to gain a one-set lead in 24 minutes.
In the second set, 24-year-old Ivanovic, also a former French Open winner, produced four breaks to pull the scores level after one hour four minutes on court, while Kuznetsova, who is 27th in the WTA rankings, managed to break back only twice.
But in the deciding set Kuznetsova, 26, broke from the start and kept her lead to win the set and the match.
Earlier, Jelena Jankovic beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-3 to put Serbia 1-0 up.
It was the former world number one's first ever win over Pavlyuchenkova in what was their fourth head-to-head meeting.
"I lost three of my previous meetings with Nastia (Pavlyuchenkova) on hard courts," Jankovic said. "This time we played on red clay and though the court was not perfect it fits my tennis better than any other surface."
"I was slightly nervous early in the match but later I managed to take control and win a point for my country. In general I'm satisfied with my play."
Pavlyuchenkova started with a break but the 27-year-old Jankovic, who won the 2008 edition of WTA Kremlin Cup in Moscow, broke back to level at 3-3.
Pavlyuchenkova snatched another break in the seventh game but in the eighth she made a catalogue of errors which allowed Jankovic to take three consecutive games and the first set in one hour.
The Russian 20-year-old started the second set with a break again but Jankovic, who is 18th in the WTA rankings, added power to her attacks taking five consecutive games, the set and the match in one hour 46 minutes.
On Sunday the reverse singles and the doubles showdown will complete the tie's schedule.
The winner of the tie will face either reigning champions Czech Republic or Italy, who are battling for a place in the final at Ostrava.