MOSCOW -- French Open champion Anastasia Myskina pulled Russia into a 1-1 tie with defending champion France at the Fed Cup final Saturday after U.S.
Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova lost the first singles match.
Nathalie Dechy gave France a big lift in the opener of the best-of-five series by defeating Kuznetsova 3-6, 7-6 (4), 8-6. Myskina then made sure
Russia didn't entirely squander the first day, beating Moscow-born teenager Tatiana Golovin 6-4, 7-6 (5) at Krylatskoye Ice Palace.
Russia, bidding for its first Fed Cup title, was close to winning the first match. But Dechy rose to the moment and beat Kuznetsova for the second
time this year. Kuznetsova, ranked No. 4, was rattled and committed 77 unforced errors.
"Everyone is fighting hard against me after the U.S. Open," Kuznetsova said. "I knew it would depend only on me to win or lose this match."
Russia and France surged into the finals with 5-0 sweeps of Austria and Spain, respectively. France is playing in its third Fed Cup final, having won
the previous two. Russia is in its fifth final but has never won.
On Sunday, Myskina opens against Dechy and Kuznetsova faces Golovin. Russians Elena Likhovtseva and Vera Zvonareva are to play doubles against Marion
Bartoli and Emilie Loit.
The French were hurt in this round by two key withdrawals. Amelie Mauresmo pulled out to concentrate on next season, and Mary Pierce had a sore
shoulder. That left Dechy, ranked No. 21, and she did not disappoint.
After trading early breaks in the first set, Kuznetsova silenced 40 noisy French fans by breaking Dechy in the eighth game with a backhand winner down
the line. She then served two winners and closed the set at 6-3 with a powerful crosscourt forehand.
Dechy double-faulted to drop the first game of the second set. Kuznetsova later was serving for victory at 5-4 but fell behind love-40. She saved one
break point then sent a backhand wide as Dechy tied it 5-5. Dechy took the tiebreaker 7-4, evening the sets.
In the third, Kuznetsova saved two break points in the fifth game but Dechy broke ahead to go up 5-4. Kuznetsova broke back in the next game but
trailed love-40 in the 13th game. Dechy converted the first of the three break points and served out the match.
The pressure then fell to Myskina. She came back from 3-0 down in the first set to break 16-year-old Golovin twice and win the first set 6-4. In the
second, Golovin saved four break points in the fifth game but Myskina converted the fifth and went ahead 3-2.
However, Golovin evened it at 4-4 and had a set point on Myskina's serve in the 12th game before Myskina held on to force a tiebreaker. She finally
won 7-5 when Golovin sent a backhand long.