Venus Williams of the USA survived some shaky moments to post a 7-6 0-6 6-4 victory over Russia's Nadia Petrova in the Fed Cup semi-final in Vermont.
Venus carried US hopes in the absence of her sister Serena
The win made up for 18-year-old Vania King's 6-1, 6-3 defeat to Anna Chakvetadze in the opening match.
Meanwhile in Italy, Amelie Mauresmo of France suffered her second successive Fed Cup defeat to Francesca Schiavone.
Tatiana Golovin had given the visitors a winning start to the tie beating Tathiana Garbin 6-3 2-6 6-2.
The best-of-five format sees singles matches played on Saturday, with reverse singles and doubles on Sunday.
American eyes were focused on Wimbledon champion Williams as she was expected to carry the US in the absence of younger sister Serena, nursing hand and calf injuries.
Despite losing the first three games, she rallied to take the first set in a tiebreaker.
Petrova forced a third set easily but Williams overcame a break of serve by winning the last three games.
The Americans are seeking their first trip to the finals since 2003. They haven't won since 2000.
The Russians, who have won two of the last three FedCup titles, are also missing their biggest guns, with Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova sidelined by injuries.
In Castellaneta Marina, Mauresmo lost for the fourth time in eight meetings against the experienced Schiavone, going down in straight sets 7-5 6-3 in 42-degree heat.
Mauresmo was 5-3 ahead in the opening set but Schiavone then reeled off the next four games to turn the tide.