Fed Cup Final: Sabalenka defeats Stephens to tie the final


― Reuters picNEW YORK, Nov 9 ― Coco Vandeweghe thrives on team play and said on Wednesday she hopes to cap a breakthrough season by leading the United States to victory over Belarus in this weekend's Fed Cup final.

Coco Vandeweghe will assume a leading role on a United States team seeking their first Fed Cup championship since winning a record 17th in 2000. 13 had a rough start getting broken in the second game of the first set.

"You just try your best", Vandeweghe said Friday.

The 78th-ranked Sabalenka beat out-of-sorts US Open champion Stephens 6-3 3-6 6-4 in the second rubber to make it one apiece.

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On Sunday, Vandeweghe will go up against Sabalenka, and Stephens will meet Sasnovich. But she only played six matches this season and is now ranked 208th. Since then, they have played and lost in three finals - 2003, 2009 and 2010.

Vandeweghe, who made her debut in the top 10 of the world rankings this week after reaching the final of the WTA Elite Trophy, will assume a leading role on a U.S. team seeking their first Fed Cup championship since winning a record 17th in 2000. Joining Stephens for the best-of-fivematches final on an indoor hard court in Minsk, Belarus, on November 11-12 are two-time Grand Slam semifinalist CoCo Vandeweghe, Shelby Rogers and Alison Riske.

Kathy Rinaldi, in her first season as the US captain, is trying to become the first since Billie Jean King to lead a winning Fed Cup squad.

"We know we're going to have a very competitive weekend", Rinaldi said. We're here to win. "It doesn't matter who we're playing on the other side of the net, we'll just focus on us and our team and just sticking together and supporting each other and I think we'll do fine". There was an archer who perfectly placed an arrow through a tennis ball, which contained Sasnovich's name, to determine the order of play. And two men dressed in old-fashioned knight's attire greeted draw attendees on horseback outside the Minsk City Hall.