LIEVIN, France (AP) — Melanie Oudin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands won the opening singles to give the United States a 2-0 lead against France in the quarterfinals of the Fed Cup.
Oudin defeated Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-4 after Mattek-Sands outlasted Alize Cornet 7-6 (7), 7-5 in the first match.
"Both players on my team just really kept it together mentally and that was the difference," said U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez.
Both teams were without their best players. Top-ranked Serena Williams and No. 5 Venus Williams skipped the event while France played without Marion Bartoli, Aravane Rezai and Virginie Razzano.
In other quarterfinal Fed Cup matches, defending champion Italy and Ukraine were tied at 1-1, along Russia and Serbia (1-1) and Germany and Czech Republic (1-1).
The 140th-ranked Mattek-Sands rallied from 5-2 down in the first set and clinched the tiebreaker after an unforced error from Cornet. She converted her third match point when Cornet netted an approach shot.
"Alize is a great player and I knew I was going to have to grind the match out," Mattek-Sands said. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy and I think that coming with that mindset really helped me. ... It was very tight, it could have gone either way."
In the second match, Oudin broke Parmentier in the fifth game and held serve to take the first set on a forehand error by Parmentier.
In the second set, Parmentier had five break points for a 4-2 lead but failed to convert any of them. Oudin didn't miss her chance at 4-4 and broke Parmentier to get the opportunity to serve for the match.
Oudin sent a backhand into the net but won when Parmentier's backhand sailed long.
"I played the important points well," Oudin said. "It was really nice to be able to go out there, knowing that we're already up 1-0."
Reverse singles and the final doubles match are scheduled for Sunday in the best-of-five series. The U.S. has a 10-1 record against France, its only loss coming in their last meeting in 2003.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine, Alona Bondarenko defeated Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-1, 6-4 before Flavia Pennetta beat Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5, 6-3.
In Brno, Czech Republic, Anna-Lena Groenefeld stopped Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-2 and Petra Kvitova evened it by defeating Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-4.
In Belgrade, Jelena Jankovic rallied from a set down and 1-4 in the second to beat Russia's Alisa Kleybanova 4-6, 6-4, 6-0. In the opener, Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 6-4.
The former top-ranked Ivanovic finished with 50 unforced errors and six double-faults.
"I had my chances in the second set, but psychology played a big part in the final outcome," Ivanovic said.
Russia, which has won four of the last six Fed Cup titles, is without top players Dinara Safina, Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva. Serbia is playing for the first time in the World Group.
The Russia-Serbia winner will take on the U.S-France winner in the semifinals in April.