United States takes lead in Davis Cup semifinals vs France

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.