Madison Keys kept the United States from being in a big hole against Australia by routing Kimberly Birrell, 6-2, 6-2, on Saturday in the Fed Cup quarterfinals in Asheville, N.C.
Keys’s victory came after Ashleigh Barty posted a 6-1, 7-6 (2) victory over Sofia Kenin earlier in the day. Keys and Barty will square off Sunday with the best-of-five matches tied, 1-1.
Avoiding an 0-2 deficit was crucial for the United States, which lost to the Czech Republic in last year’s final.
“We’ll take it one match at a time,” the American captain, Kathy Rinaldi, said afterward. “That’s what we’ve been doing since I’ve been captain. That’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
The Czech Republic split two matches against visiting Romania. Simona Halep -of Romania rolled past Katerina Siniakova, 6-4, 6-0, and will face Karolina Pliskova on Sunday. Pliskova earned a 6-1, 6-4 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu but has struggled against Halep, who has a 6-2 lead in their head-to-head meetings.
“Six-two is fine — the match starts from zero-zero, so there’s going to be a chance for both of us, never mind what happened in the past,” Pliskova said. “I just have it in my head that I beat her when we won,” against Romania in the 2016 Fed Cup quarterfinals.
France took a 2-0 lead over host Belgium as Caroline Garcia defeated Alison Van Uytvanck, 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-2, and Alizé Cornet dispatched Elise Mertens, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
Belarus owns a 2-0 lead over host Germany after Aliaksandra Sasnovich defeated Tatjana Maria, 7-6 (3), 6-3, and Aryna Sabalenka soared past Andrea Petkovic, 6-2, 6-1. The winner will take on the United States or Australia.