MOSCOW (AP) — Ayumi Morita beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2 Saturday to put Japan level at 1-1 with Russia after the opening singles in their Fed Cup first-round series.
Maria Kirilenko had given Russia the lead, beating veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the opening match.
Morita then dominated her match against Makarova, who only held serve once in the first set. The 57th-ranked Morita won four straight games in the second and wrapped up her 13th straight Fed Cup victory on her first match point when the Russian returned her crosscourt shot long.
"I think, I played very well today and I'm happy to win," Morita said. "I knew her (Makarova) from juniors and I knew how she played, so I was ready for the match. I was under pressure after Kimiko lost her match and I really wanted to win my match."
Kirilenko rallied from 5-3 down to force a tiebreaker in the first set. She won four consecutive games in the second but failed to serve out the match at 5-2. Kirilenko then saved four break points in her next service game before wrapping up her first victory in a Fed Cup singles match on her fourth match point.
"Finally I managed to win a point for my country's team," said Kirilenko, who had a 0-2 record in Fed Cup.
The Russian, who won her sixth career title in Pattaya, Thailand, last weekend, said that victory had boosted her confidence.
"It helped me a lot to win today," she said.
Four-time winner Russia is without Maria Sharapova, Nadia Petrova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva.
In Sunday's return singles, Kirilenko will face Morita and Makarova takes on Date-Krumm.
"It's going to be a tough match and a big challenge for me," Morita said of her match with Kirilenko, who is 1-0 against her.
The Russian pair of Elena Vesnina and Margarita Gasparyan were scheduled to play Morita and Misaki Doi in the doubles.
The winner faces Serbia or Slovakia in the semifinals on April 20-21.