London:Flavia Pennetta saved a match point and beat former No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo as Italy took a 2-0 lead over France in the Fed Cup on Saturday.
In other World Group ties, defending champion Russia led China 2-0, Spain and the Czech Republic were at 1-1, and the United States was also tied with Argentina.
Pennetta beat Mauresmo 2-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 but hit a passing shot wide to give the Frenchwoman a match point in the tiebreaker at Orleans. The Italian contested the decision and received a warning for verbal abuse. She risked losing the match on a penalty point when she directed a gesture at the chair umpire.
"That behavior is shameful and unacceptable," Mauresmo told Sport Plus.
Mauresmo lost focus after the incident, double-faulting and making an unforced error to give Pennetta another set point she converted.
Pennetta then rallied from 4-1 down in the third set and broke Mauresmo at 4-4 to serve out for the match.
"I'm disappointed and frustrated because I had opportunities and I had the match under control," Mauresmo said. "Even after I lost the second set, I was leading 4-1 in the third. And yet I didn't manage to finish her off."
Francesca Schiavone then beat Alize Cornet 6-1, 2-6, 8-6 to give the Italians a 2-0 lead going into Sunday's play.
In a one-sided match in Moscow, Svetlana Kuznetsova outplayed Yan Zi 6-2, 6-4 and Elena Dementieva easily beat Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-0.
Russia has won four Fed Cup titles in the past five years and has not lost at home since hosting France in 2003. The winner will face either Italy or France in the semifinals on April 25-26.
Last year's runner-up, Spain fell behind to the Czechs in Brno when Petra Kvitova beat Australian Open quarterfinalist Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4, 6-4 in the opening singles.
But Nuria Llagostera Vives leveled the tie by defeating Iveta Benesova 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.
The United States, trying to win its first Fed Cup since 2000 without the Williams sisters, started well in Surprise, Arizona when Jill Craybas eased past Betina Jozami 6-2, 6-1. But Argentine veteran Gisela Dulko then handled Melanie Oudin, a 17-year-old making her cup debut, 6-2, 7-5.