Boston, July 15: Wimbledon champion Venus Williams beat Russian Nadia Petrova 7-6 0-6 6-4 in the second singles to level the Fed Cup semi-final between the United States and Russia at 1-1 in Stowe, Vermont.
Williams, who claimed her fourth Wimbledon singles crown last week, took the first-set tiebreaker 8-6 and then roared back after being blanked in the second set to improve her career Fed Cup singles record to 13-2 yesterday."After all the matches I played at Wimbledon, that stress level, I don't get nervous any more," Williams, who was down a break in the third set, said about rising to the task of evening up the semi-final.
In the opening singles, Anna Chakvetadze beat Vania King 6-1 6-3 to give Russia a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five tie.
Reverse singles will be played on Sunday followed by a potentially decisive doubles match.
Williams is scheduled to face Chakvetadze in today's first match, followed by King against Petrova.
U S captain Zina Garrison indicated she may consider the option of substituting Meilen Tu for King in the second singles. Tu, a late replacement for Venus's injured sister, Serena, would be making her Fed Cup debut if called upon.
Top-ranked doubles player Lisa Raymond is scheduled to partner King against Russia's Petrova and Elena Vesnina in the doubles.
The winner advances to the final against the winner of the contest between holders Italy and France, which stood at 1-1 after yesterday's opening singles in Castellaneta Marina, Italy.
The momentum shifted both ways in the Williams-Petrova match with the 27-year-old Williams converting 5 of 11 break point opportunities and Petrova breaking on 7 of 12 chances.
Williams hit seven aces in the match, but also sprayed eight double-faults.
With Petrova serving at 4-5 to stay in the match, Williams turned up the pressure on the Russian, moving forward on her crumbling service game to gain three match points, forcing a long Petrova forehand on the second match point to end it.
Williams improved her career head-to-head mark against Petrova to 4-0 in bringing the U S level.
Russia took the early advantage behind the strong play of Chakvetadze, at world number eight the highest-ranked player in either squad.She broke 18-year-old King on her first two service games to seize a 4-0 first-set lead and set the tone. King did not hold a single break point in the match.
"I told myself (that) I will stay concentrated, confident, and nothing's going to happen. I just play for fun," said Chakvetadze, who improved her Fed Cup singles record to 3-0.