United States takes lead in Davis Cup semifinals vs France

United States takes lead in Davis Cup semifinals vs France
Sloane Stephens of USA celebrates after defeating Pauline Parmentier of France during the Fed Cup semifinal singles tennis match in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France (AP) — 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.

The U.S. Open champion saved five set points serving at 5-4 down in the first set and rallied from a break and 4-3 down in the second set.

Both players made more than 50 unforced errors each in a scrappy World Group match lasting 2 hours, 23 minutes, conceding 25 break-point chances between them.

The ninth-ranked Stephens converted four of her 11 chances on Parmentier’s serve, while the 122nd-ranked Parmentier took only three of her 14 chances.

Later Saturday, No. 20 Kristina Mladenovic played CoCo Vandeweghe at the 6,700-capacity Arena Pays d’Aix on indoor clay.

Mladenovic and Amandine Hesse are set to face Madison Keys and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the doubles on Sunday, following the reverse singles.

The Americans hold an 11-2 winning record against the French, who won their most recent meeting in 2014.

Both teams are missing their highest-ranked player: No. 8 Venus Williams and No. 7 Caroline Garcia.

Garcia remains unavailable for France, preferring to prioritize her singles career.

Germany trails 2-0 against the Czech Republic in the other semifinal in Stuttgart.