Sunday, 17 December, 2017

United States beats Belarus to win its 18th Fed Cup title

Vandeweghe, Stephens open play Vs Belarus in Fed Cup final FED CUP - USA defeats Belarus 3-2 to win first title since 2000
Dexter Carr | 13 November, 2017, 01:55

BC-TEN-Fed Cup Final, 5th Ld-Writethru, 432 United States beats Belarus to win its 18th Fed Cup titleAP Photo PJO195, PJO194, PJO198, PJO200, PJO206, PJO202, PJO186, PJO205, PJO183, PJO187, PJO184, PJO181, PJO188, PJO182, PJO164, PJO167, PJO159, PJO166, PJO156, PJO154, PJO127, PJO113, PJO114, PJO128Eds: Adds detail, photo links.

Aryna Sabalenka stunned U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-3 3-6 6-4 in the Fed Cup final to draw Belarus level with the United States at 1-1 after Coco Vandeweghe kept her composure to win the first singles rubber on Saturday. She finished 2017 with eight Fed Cup wins, including the maximum six Fed Cup singles victories.

Coco Vandeweghe gave the U.S., seeking a first victory since 2000, a ideal start by beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 6-4 in the opening match at the Chizhovka Arena.

Rogers and Vandeweghe had to rally from 5-2 down in the second set to force a tiebreaker, which the Americans won 7-3.

The 25-year-old American took the opening set after 50 minutes winning it in a tiebreak. The U.S. last won the Fed Cup 17 years ago while Belarus are playing their first final.

Kathy Rinaldi, in her inaugural season in charge of the Americans, became the first female captain in the tournament to lead a Fed Cup team to victory since Billie Jean King for the United States in 2000.

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Belarus was making its first appearance in a Fed Cup final. She is the first player to win eight matches since the current eight-team World Group format was introduced in 2005. "CoCo (Vandeweghe) came out and just played unbelievable".

In the deciding set, Stephens led 5-2 before Sasnovich, 23, roared back with four straight games before eventually closing it out 8-6 as Stephens suffered her sixth straight defeat since winning her maiden Grand Slam title in NY in September.

The plan worked and the match went to decider as Sabalenka kept going for her shots and missing.

Earlier, Vandeweghe beat Sabalenka 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 to give the USA a 2-1 lead.

"I know she was going to keep swinging", Vandeweghe said.

In the second Sabalenka, who is 78th in the world, suddenly lost her nerve allowing Vandeweghe to break twice before she took the set and the match sealing her victory with an accurate backhand.

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