Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet put France on the brink of qualifying for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals on Friday with a 2-0 lead against hosts Britain.
World number five Garcia was pushed hard by world number 154 Katie Boulter before battling through 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/2) in three hours 26 minutes in Coventry.
Cornet, ranked 70, then secured the second point with a 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7-3) win over 138th-ranked Harriet Dart in the best-of-five tie which concludes on Saturday.
“I’m so relieved, it was such a huge fight against Harriet,” said Cornet.
“I’m very happy to get through in two sets. The third set would’ve been very tough for both of us.
“Five tie-breaks today, this tie is so tough and we knew we could not let go of a single point.”
Britain, who reached the semi-finals last year, are again missing Emma Raducanu, leaving Dart as their top singles player.
The two sets were very different, the first punctuated by six breaks, with no breaks in the second.
In the first-set tiebreaker, Cornet saved a set point at 5-6, before winning 8-6, while in the second, she quickly broke away at 5-1 to prevail in 2hr 27min.
France only needs one victory to qualify for the finals, with two singles and a doubles slated for Saturday.
Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic helped France hoist the trophy in 2019. Cornet and youngster Clara Burel complete the visiting quartet alongside.
“It was a crazy battle,” said Garcia.
“Three tie-breaks just says how tight the match was.”
Both players broke serve in each set with Garcia showing her experience in high-stakes matches to finish with an ace.
In Astana, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Yulia Putintseva won their matches against a Poland missing injured world number one Iga Swiatek to put Kazakhstan 2-0 up.
Putintseva fought back from 4-0 down in the first set to dispatch Magda Linette 7-5, 6-3 on clay with world number seven Rybakina seeing off Weronika Falkowska 6-3, 6-4.
The Czech Republic are 2-0 up against Ukraine. Former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova eased past Katarina Zavatska 6-4, 6-3, after 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova dispatched Marta Kostyuk 6-2, 6-1.
The matches are being played in the Turkish city of Antalya because of the war in Ukraine.
Record 18-time champions the United States, led by top-10 players Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff, will also target one of nine qualifying spots this weekend for the tournament, formerly known as the Fed Cup.
The USA will be heavily fancied to overcome Austria in Delray Beach, Gauff’s Florida home town where she trains.
Defending champions Switzerland and 2022 runners-up Australia received direct entrance to the November 7-12 finals, which will feature four groups of three.
A wild card nation will complete the line-up along with the nine qualifiers.