Draw for final match of Federation Cup Belarus-USA held in Minsk

Violet Powell
November 13, 2017

Belarus and United States are locked at 1-1 after the first day of singles action at the Fed Cup final in Minsk. Shelby Rogers and Coco Vandeweghe defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Aryna Sabakenka by 6-3 7-6 (3) to deny the first Fed Cup title ever for Belarus in their first final.

Shelby Rogers is ranked 59th in the world in singles, but the touring tennis professional from Charleston is even more accomplished as a player in team competitions. This was its fourth Fed Cup final since last winning in 2000.

It was the United States' record 18th Fed Cup crown.

She broke again in the first game of the second set, and although Sasnovich levelled things up immediately, Vandeweghe struck back before holding to love to take control. Rogers won both of her service points in the tiebreaker for a 3-2 edge and then delivered a backhand volley victor against Sabalenka's service point for a 4-2 advantage for the Americans.

Aryna Sabalenka withstood a second set fightback to beat US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in front of a home crowd in Minsk.

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

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 U.S. in 2000.

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Belarus were making their first appearance in a Fed Cup final. Vandeweghe was the heroine of the season, becoming the first ever player to pick up eight points for a team during a championship run. "CoCo (Vandeweghe) came out and just played unbelievable".

Stephens had lost six matches since winning the U.S. Open in September.

The plan worked and the match went to decider as Sabalenka kept going for her shots and missing. It took Sasnovich two attempts, at 6-5 and 7-6 in the third set, to serve out the match.

Sabalenka led 4-1 in the tiebreaker but surrendered her lead to a more measured Vandeweghe, who clinched the first set when the Belarussian blasted a forehand wide while going for a victor.

"We know we're going to have a very competitive weekend", Rinaldi said.

On match point, Vandeweghe returned Sasnovich's serve toward Sabalenka, who volleyed low at Rogers' feet. "I just kept the pressure on".

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