Moscow – Ekaterina Makarova kept alive Russian hopes of reaching the Fed Cup semi-finals on Sunday by defeating veteran Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-1, 6-1 in the second of day's reverse singles.
That left the tie finely balanced at 2-2 with just the concluding doubles to follow.
In what was her first ever meeting with the 42-year-old Date-Krumm, Makarova needed just 59 minutes to complete a commanding win.
“I felt some extra responsibility today as the result of this rubber could be crucial,” Makarova said.
“Luckily, I managed to forget by defeat of yesterday and instead concentrate on playing my own game against Date-Krumm.”
The 24-year-old left-hander Makarova looked in complete command from the start, breaking her rival's serve twice in the opening set to take it in 29 minutes.
In the second, Makarova underlined her domination by producing three more breaks to win the set and the match to level the overall score at 2-2.
Earlier on Sunday Ayumi Morita put Japan 2-1 up against the four-time Fed Cup champions Russia confidently beating Elena
Vesnina 6-4, 6-1.
“I wanted to win today very much and I managed to do it,” said Morita.
“I played well in both by games here and I'm really pleased with my performance during the weekend.”
The 22-year-old Morita had looked the more confident player right from the start and she broke early for a comfortable 4-1 lead.
Vesnina, 26, replaced team leader Maria Kirilenko, who was able to play on Saturday but unable to on Sunday due to a cold, broke back in the ninth game but failed to level as Morita broke again in the 10th for a one-set lead in 52 minutes.
The Russian opened the second set with a break, but Morita replied positively and moved up a gear to win six consecutive games to clinch the set and the match.
On Saturday, Kirilenko put Russia 1-0 up by beating Date-Krumm in a tough match 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, before Morita beat Makarova 6-2, 6-2 to level the overall score.
The winner of the tie will face the winner of the clash between Slovakia and Serbia in April's semi-finals. – Sapa-AFP