Morita defeated Makarova 6-2, 6-2 to even the best-of-five series at 1-1, after Maria Kirilenko got by Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 to earn the first point for Russia.
Kirilenko -- at No. 13, the highest-ranked player in the series -- had trouble finishing off Date-Krumm, who is No. 77 in the world. Both players had a pair of first-set breaks before Kirilenko prevailed in the tiebreaker.
Kirilenko was up two breaks in the second set only to have Date-Krumm fight back and nearly even the match. Kirilenko fought off 15 of the 18 break points -- 8-of-9 in the second set -- in the win.
While Date-Krumm had trouble converting break chances, Morita was 6-of-7 in that category, with three breaks in each set. She won nearly two-thirds of the points when receiving serve.
Saturday's winners square off Sunday in the first singles match. It will be the first time Kirilenko and Morita have met since 2005. Makarova and Date-Krumm have never played each other.
If those matches are split, the series will come to a doubles match in which Japan's Misaki Doi and Kurumi Nara go against Russians Margarita Gasparyan and Elena Vesnina.
The Japan-Russia first-round winner moves to the Fed Cup semifinals in April against either Serbia or the Slovak Republic.
|Additional Sports News Stories|
HOLLYWOOD, May 18 (UPI) --Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez could be dating again after photos surfaced of their side-by-side seating at the Billboard Music Awards, TMZ reported.
OVERLAND PARK, Kan., May 18 (UPI) --U.S. phone service Sprint said it would mitigate the hardship on U.S. Cellular customers affected by Sprint's purchase of some of Cellular's business.