Stowe, Vermont:Venus Williams overcame a terrible second set to beat Nadia Petrova 7-6, 0-6, 6-4 and give the United States a split of the opening singles on Saturday in its Fed Cup semifinal against Russia.
Earlier on Saturday, Anna Chakvetadze gave Russia a lead by dominating Vania King 6-1, 6-3.
Williams will play Chakvetadze and US Captain Zina Garrison said she is leaning toward sending Meilen Tu against Petrova in the reverse singles on Sunday. If necessary, a deciding doubles match will follow.
The winner meets the winner of the other semifinals between Italy and France for the championship in September.
The win "takes a lot of pressure off my teammates," Williams said. With no other player on the team ranked higher than the 43rd-ranked Tu, Williams was being counted on to win two matches. Venus jumped from 31 to 17 after her Wimbledon victory.
She said her sister wanted to play but had to pull out because of an injury.
"I told her, 'You're not playing,' so I'm playing for me, for her and for the US," she said.
Williams fell behind 3-0 and 5-2 in the first set against the ninth-ranked player in the world.
She held serve for 5-3, then broke the Russian and finally pulled even by winning serve in the 10th game at love.
Facing three set points in the tiebreaker, Williams answered by winning the next five points. First came a service winner, then Petrova hit a backhand into the net after a long rally, and her long forehand made it 6-6.
Petrova then double-faulted, and finally hit another long forehand, and angrily slammed a ball after the point.
She said getting blanked in the second set was an emotional letdown.
"Even a bit in the beginning of the third, it was really frustrating when I was missing," Williams said.
King was no match for Chatkvetadze, who never faced a break point. King managed to hold serve only four times, scattering forehands and missing on volleys throughout.
"I think I didn't start off very well. I think I started playing better and better toward the end," King said. "But you know, she didn't really give me anything."
King, ranked 84th, was a late replacement to play after Serena Williams, who withdrew with an injury. Garrison picked King over Tu, who only joined the team this week.
The US has dominated this series with 17 championships since it began in 1963, but has not won since 2000. Russia, which has become a dominant force in women's tennis, won in 2004 and 2005.