American women beat Belarus 3-2 to clinch first Fed Cup title in 17 years
The United States claimed their first Fed Cup title for 17 years as Shelby Rogers and CoCo Vandeweghe beat Belarus pair Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich in a deciding doubles rubber in the final yesterday. Vandeweghe and Rogers won 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) to give the Americans a 3-2 final victory and an 18th Fed Cup crown. Earlier on Sunday, Vandeweghe put the USA 2-1 up by beating Sabalenka 7-6 (7/5), 6-1, while Sasnovich battled back from a set down to beat Sloane Stephens 4-6, 6-1, 8-6 to draw Belarus level at 2-2. Sabalenka and Sasnovich, 23, dropped a serve apiece in the first set and the Americans surged in front after just 26 minutes. The Belarus duo replied positively and broke both Vandeweghe and Rogers in the second to move 5-2 ahead but the visitors then broke back twice to level at 5-5.
A jubilant US team pose with the Fed Cup after beating Belarus in the final at Minsk on Sunday. Pic/AFP
In a tense conclusion, the hosts broke Rogers again but the American pair would not buckle despite the intense atmosphere of a Minsk crowd desperate to see a first home Fed Cup triumph. Sabalenka dropped serve again to send the set to the tiebreak where the experienced US duo triumphed. In Sunday’s early match Sabalenka and Vandeweghe both played with confidence under the watchful gaze of Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko on the hard-court at the packed Minsk Chizhovka 8,000-seat arena.
The American took the opening set after 50 minutes winning it in a tiebreak. 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. “I knew if I just kept giving myself opportunities and getting my nose in front in her service games, I’d keep getting opportunities and she’d eventually break down,” Vandeweghe said. “She did what she’s supposed to do and did what I expected her to do — just swing and pray for it to go in and she did it. So you just got to recover and keep fighting.”