US BEATS BELARUS TO LIFT FED CUP
Minsk, Belarus - The US claimed its first Fed Cup tennis 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 on Sunday.
Vandeweghe and Rogers won 6-3, 7-6 to give the Americans a 3-2 final victory and an 18th Fed Cup crown. "I'm just really thrilled for all four players," said US captain Kathy Rinaldi.
"CoCo (Vandeweghe) came out and just played unbelievable. Shelby (Rogers) stepped up and Sloane (Stephens) - my heart was broken for her, but she battled this whole weekend, she battled all the way to the end. I'm so proud of all four of them."
Earlier on Sunday, Vandeweghe put the US 2-1 up by beating Sabalenka 7-6, 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.
The 19 year old 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.
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 tie-break where the experienced US duo triumphed.
On the opening day Vandeweghe put US into the lead with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Sasnovich, while Sabalenka beat Stephens 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to pull the scores level at 1-1.
Belarus was without former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka who was forced to remain in the US to fight a custody battle over her baby son.
US players celebrate with their trophy after winning the Fed Cup final against hosts Belarus in Minsk on Sunday