Playing in front of a sold-out but fairly muted crowd, the third-ranked Williams began the best-of-five-matches tie by beating the world No 17 Elena Likhovtseva 6-3, 6-4. Davenport had a difficult first set against the 17-year-old, Elena Dementieva, whose low, hard groundstrokes caused her problems, but found her range in the second to win 6-4, 6-0.
"She was hitting some great shots," Davenport said. "After I closed out the first set, I felt a lot of pressure come off and I felt like I could go for my shots more."
The United States captain, Billie Jean King, was annoyed that the crowd did not cheer more loudly for her "Dream Team" which features the defending Wimbledon champion Davenport, Venus Williams, the recently crowned US Open champion, Serena Williams, and the nine-times Grand Slam winner Monica Seles. "I just wish we could get the Americans to get into it the way other countries do," King said. "They really have it down to an art - they've got the banners, the chanting, they do it the whole match. We have the best players in the world. We have a dream team. And that in of itself should be enough to get pretty excited about, no matter what the score is."
In yesterday's first and possibly decisive match, Davenport was due to play Likhovtseva, followed by Venus Williams against Dementieva. The Williams sisters were then scheduled to play Dementieva and Elena Makarova in the final match.