Sloane Stephens fought hard to beat Pauline Parmentier 7-6 (3), 7-5 and give defending champion United States a 1-0 lead against France in the Fed Cup semifinals on Saturday.
Waiting for the USA in the November final are the Czechs, who swept past Germany 4-1 in the other semi-final in Stuttgart.
Coco Vandeweghe of the U.S. in action against Kristina Mladenovic of France during their match of the Fed Cup World Group semi final tie between France and the United States in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, 21 April 2018.
Keys took an early 3-2 lead in the second set, forcing an error with another solid service return on break point, but a pumped Parmentier quickly tied the set at 3-3 after a scintillating backhand passing shot, sending the French crowd and her captain, Yannick Noah, into a frenzy alongside her.
Earlier, Sloane Stephens had given a 2-1 lead to the USA with a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of Mladenovic. Serving for the match, Keys found herself down break point one last time, but another strong serve brought her to deuce, and two points later, the American put her team back into the final. I was so sad I couldn't play in the final past year because of my wrist injury. Czech Republic, now leading 8-1 in the head to heads between the two nations, defeated Germany in all four of their ties on clay and clinched its 95th overall Fed Cup success Thanks to Kvitova, the only player in the nation to have been on all the five title-winning teams, Czechs won 12 of their last 12 ties.
"I am very relieved".
The German No.1, the 5th woman to play Fed Cup for Germany for 10 years after Anna-Lena Gronefeld (13 years), Anke Huber (11), Helga Masthoff (11) and Barbara Rittner (11), claimed her seventh win in the competition thanks to a hard-working game and a deadlier first serve.
"The girls did so well, both today and yesterday".
Konta and Watson looked to be cruising in the doubles before Miyu Kato and Makoto Ninomiya hit back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, ending British hopes of breaking back into the Fed Cup's top 16 for the first time since 1993. Fed Cup is special. "We are very fortunate to have such a strong group and now we are looking forward to what is going to be a great final", United States captain Kathy Rinaldi said. The Czechs, who have home advantage over the Americans in the November 10-11 final, had won the title three times in a row until the U.S. dethroned them past year.