Fed Cup and Davis Cup international play always brings out fervent home crowds, inspired play, and great underdog stories. Belarus threatened to become one of the biggest underdog stories on Sunday before the U.S. captured a Fed Cup record 18th title, its first in 17 years in Minsk, Belarus.
Despite no players in the Top 75 on their roster, and playing a U.S. team with a US Open champion and semifinalist, Belarus won two singles matches to force the deciding doubles. That’s where the U.S.’s CoCo Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers clinched it, beating Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the deciding doubles of the 2017 final.
Both the No. 78-ranked teenager Sabalenka and the 23-year-old No. 87-ranked Sasnovich had beaten the U.S.’s Sloane Stephens in singles, while Vandeweghe kept the U.S. in the tie with two singles wins. Stephens on Sunday lost to Sasnovich 4-6, 6-1, 8-6 after serving for the match in the third set. The American is 0-6 in singles matches since winning the US Open.
It was the U.S.’s first appearance in a Fed Cup final since 2010 and its first title since 2000. It was Belarus’ first appearance in a Fed Cup final, driven throughout the year by former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who was forced to miss the final due to a child custody case.
Vandeweghe finished the year 8-0 in Fed Cup play, winning six singles matches and two doubles. This year she finished in the Top 10 for the first time in her career.
“Today was a lot of work and a lot of dedication to the Fed Cup in each and every round,” Vandeweghe said afterwards. “I dedicate my time and energy through my season to be able to perform the best I could for Team USA.”
For U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi it was a Fed Cup title in her first year.
“It’s unbelievable,” Rinaldi said. “What an amazing effort by all four players this week. It’s been incredible, the atmosphere is something special. It’s a day we’ll never forget.”
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