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US defeat Belarus to lift their 18th title, first one since 2000


The United States team with the Fed Cup trophy after defeating Belarus in the final.
 MINSK, Nov 13: The United States claimed their first Fed Cup title in 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 (7/3) 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 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.

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.

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. – AFP

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