Svetlana Kuznetsova survived a second-set wobble to brush aside Ana Ivanovic and bring Russia level at 1-1 with Serbia in their Fed Cup semi-final on Saturday.
After Russian number two Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was beaten by Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 6-3 in the opening singles rubber, Kuznetsova prevailed over Ivanovic 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 to even the two-day tie for the hosts.
"Ana always is a difficult opponent for me," former world number two Kuznetsova, who has slipped to number 27 after struggling to regain her top form this season, said.
"But I think this court was suiting my game better than her," the Russian said about the red clay court, laid on top of the ice rink at Moscow's Megasport arena.
"I know my team relies on me to win my matches and I will do whatever it takes to keep us in this tie."
The Russians, bidding for their fifth Fed Cup title since 2004, have won their three previous ties against Serbia.
Former World No 1 Jankovic was far too consistent for error-prone Pavlyuchenkova, who blamed her poor service games for losing to the Serb for the first time in four meetings.
"My serving was just terrible today, a real nightmare," said the 20-year-old Russian.
Jankovic said: "I was a bit nervous early on, but then managed to take control of the match. It was a very important win for me because I was playing for my country."
Jankovic will aim to put Serbia, playing in their first Fed Cup semi-final, ahead again when she takes on Kuznetsova in the first reverse singles on Sunday while Ivanovic faces Pavlyuchenkova in the second match.
Last year's winners Czech Republic lead Italy 2-0 in the other semi-final.