Sabalenka downs Stephens as Belarus level up Fed Cup final against USA

Sabalenka downs Stephens as Belarus level up Fed Cup final against USA

Sabalenka beat Stephens 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 Saturday after CoCo Vandeweghe earlier defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 6-4 to give 17-time champion United States a 1-0 lead.

America's Coco Vandeweghe is heading into the Fed Cup final showdown against Belarus with a touch of trepidation, despite the absence of Victoria Azarenka. Stephens took it to a decider after converting her third set point.

Vendeweghe, who made her Fed Cup debut in the 2010 final defeat to Italy, said it didn't matter to her whether she played first or second.

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. Stephens has lost every match since winning the US Open title in September.

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

"It's the first time that I've cried after a match. That was insane. Playing for her country, the crowd behind her, she played great".

Bets for upcoming Southampton vs Arsenal fight
Neither Arsene Wenger nor his players could afford themselves to lose another match if they still want to be in the top four. Arsenal is still keeping the dream to be qualified in Champions League after the victory over Manchester on Sunday.

Vandeweghe, this season's Australian Open and US Open semi-finalist, looked in command from the start on the hard court in the packed Minsk Chizhovka 8,000-seat arena peppering her opponent with shots from the baseline.

"I think that's part of having the home court advantage and I would expect the same in the U.S.", Vandeweghe said.

Vandeweghe responded by breaking again in the ninth game and then held her serve to win the set and the match.

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 worldwide competition. "I'm very used to a team atmosphere first", the 25-year-old American said on a conference call from Minsk, where the November 11-12 Fed Cup decider will be held.

"No, it's a team aspect, so it's definitely not an individual moment", said Vandeweghe. The U.S. Tennis Association announced captain Kathy Rinaldi's roster.

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