Fed Cup semifinal: Australia, Belarus level after 1st day

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Australian Ashleigh Barty beat doubles partner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-6 (2), 6-3 to level their Fed Cup semifinal at 1-1 on Saturday.

Bartys win on hard courts at Pat Rafter Arena ended Azarenkas 13-match winning streak in the Fed Cup.

I knew the first set would be key, Barty said after the opening day of singles. It was just about me coming out and doing everything right. I prepared really well all week. This is why we train, we want to get down to crunch time, go out and enjoy it.

Earlier, Aryna Sabalenka gave Belarus a 1-0 lead after defeating Samantha Stosur 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.

Sabalenka won the first set when she broke serve in the final game. Stosur took the second thanks to a service break at 4-3. In the final set, the Belarussian player saved two break points in the first game and broke serve in the fourth before serving out to claim victory in 2 hours, 47 minutes.

It was an unbelievable match, Sabalenka said. She played so quick, I couldnt touch the ball on her returns.

The teams will play reverse singles and a doubles match on Sunday.

It is the first Fed Cup meeting between the countries. Australia last reached the semifinals in 2014, losing 3-1 to Germany, and is looking to make the World Group final for the first time since 1993.

Belarus has reached the semifinals for the last three years and lost the 2017 final 3-2 to the U.S.

France is hosting Romania on clay at Rouen in the other semifinal this weekend.

The winners meet in the final on Nov. 9-10, with Australia playing at home if it advances.

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