Simona Halep was in fine form for Romania as she beat Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets, but France fought back to draw level at 1-1 in the Fed Cup semi-finals.
France captain Julien Benneteau predicted Halep might be the decisive factor in the meeting between the number four and five teams in the Fed Cup Rankings, and that proved to be the case in the opening match on Saturday as the world number two cruised to a 6-3 6-1 victory.
It took Halep one hour and 40 minutes to dispatch Mladenovic – who this week added Naomi Osaka's former coach Sascha Bajin to her team – in the first rubber, although Romania's lead was cut when Caroline Garcia overcame Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3 6-3.
Aiming to propel Romania into their first Fed Cup final, Halep dropped just four games and broke Mladenovic five times at Kindarena.
Mladenovic did well to offer some resistance late in the opening set before breaking Halep's serve at the start of the second, but the 2018 French Open winner swiftly regained control to ease to victory.
Fortunately for two-time champions France, world number 21 Garcia restored parity, winning five break points over the course one hour and 26 minutes against with Buzarnescu, leaving the tie finely balanced heading into Sunday.
Garcia and Halep get things started, before Mladenovic takes on Buzarnescu in the final singles rubber.
- China Masters 2023: Lakshya, Priyanshu, Srikanth out after first round defeat
- FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers AFC points table after India vs Qatar: Blue Tigers third in Group A
- ICC ODI Rankings: Kohli moves to third spot after World Cup performance
- World Cup Diary: A Diwali in Bengaluru, old wounds heal and the final heartbreak
- Transgender cricketer Danielle McGahey retires after ICC ruling