ROUEN, France - Looking to put her country in the Fed Cup final for the first time, Simona Halep got off to the perfect start.
Romania's top player downed Kristina Mladenovic in the first singles rubber of the semifinal tie in France, 6-3, 6-1 to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
From 3-3 in the opening set, Halep won nine of the last 10 games overall.
"It was really difficult to start the match because of the emotions. It was really tough to start the game, to start the tie," Halep said on-court after the match.
"I'm really happy with the way I plaed in the second set. It was much better. It's difficult to play against Kristina because she cuts the rhythm and I couldn't find my rhythm. In the end, I felt much better, and I can say I was dominating."
For the match, she broke Mladenovic five times on a staggering 17 opportunities over the course of one hour and 40 minutes, while hitting 19 winners.
The Frenchwoman saved three break points, all from 0-40, in each of her first two service games before Halep finally came through, winning the fifth game of the opening set to 15.
However, Mladenovic would hit back immediately, breaking in the ensuing Halep service game to level, though it proved to be the only break of serve - and only break point - she'd have in the match.
Though both players logged the same total of winners, the French No.2 struggled with her consistency against Halep's defenses on the indoor clay court, as she racked up 35 unforced errors overall.
Saturday's play concluded with French No.1 Caroline Garcia leveling the tie overall against Romanian No.2 Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second singles rubber, 6-3, 6-3.