Aryna Sabalenka and Ashleigh Barty will meet in a potentially pivotal showdown on Sunday after winning their opening matches.
Ashleigh Barty overcame Victoria Azarenka in straight sets to leave the Fed Cup semi-final between Australia and Belarus tantalisingly poised at 1-1.
World number nine Barty needed an hour and 41 minutes to see off two-time major champion Azarenka 7-6 (7-2) 6-3, restoring parity after Aryna Sabalenka outlasted Sam Stosur 7-5 5-7 6-3 in the opening match in Brisbane.
The results set up an exciting start to Sunday’s action, which begins with Barty – who has won her last 12 Fed Cup rubbers – and Sabalenka battling it out on Pat Rafter Arena.
Barty twice recovered from breaks of serve in the opening set to stay level and produced a spectacular recovery from 0-40 to hold in game 11.
The Australian won seven points in succession to take the tie-break and she claimed three games against serve in the second to inflict a first Fed Cup defeat on her Miami Open doubles partner since 2010.
This is awesome
— Fed Cup (@FedCup) April 20, 2019
Stosur struggled on her first serve but secured five breaks in the second set – just one more than Sabalenka – to force a decider, which she sealed with her third match point.