Published: Sun, November 12, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Stephens boosts U.S. in final against Belarus

Stephens boosts U.S. in final against Belarus

Belarus, who are competing in the final for the first time, were 1-0 down after Coco Vandeweghe beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 6-4 in the first singles match. Stephens has lost every match since winning the US Open title in September.

They will be followed onto court by US Open champion Sloane Stephens and the hosts' number one Aryna Sabalenka, who is ranked 78th. The 17-time champions U.S. claimed their last title in 2000 and have lost three finals since - to France in 2003 and Italy in 2009 and 2010.

Stephens bounced back in the second set using the strategy that served her well at Flushing Meadows - getting balls back into court and counting on Sabalenka making unforced errors.

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The first six games of the deciding set went against serve, leaving the rivals level at three games all before Sabalenka produced the deciding break in the 10th game sealing her victory on the fourth match point.

"I'm full of emotions", Sabalenka said. "It's very hard to find any motivation after US Open because it's such a big tournament for the American players", said Vandeweghe. Tennis was the last sport I ever played.

She added: "While it has been a tough year for me, I am already looking forward to 2018 and playing before my fans very soon".

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"I don't know much about the Belarus team", said Vandeweghe, with headline act Azarenka out for the home side amid a custody dispute.

Vandeweghe has won all five of the Fed Cup rubbers she has contested this year ― four singles and one doubles ― and credits her exposure to team sports at an early age for the success she has enjoyed in the global competition.

Vandeweghe broke in the opening games of both sets at Chizhovka Arena, and didn't face a break point on her serve in the opener. "For me, Fed Cup is probably one of the more exciting moments I could have in my career".

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"I feel like I'm coming in with wool over my eyes a little bit", Vandeweghe said. "I just take the energy that's around me and I really use it to my advantage". Shelby Rogers and Alison Riske are the other members of USA captain Kathy Rinaldi's roster.

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