Fed Cup: USA defeats Belarus 3-2 after prevailing in crucial doubles rubber

Coco Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers clinched the Fed Cup title for the USA after defeating Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the final rubber, prevailing 6-3, 7-6.

Fed Cup: USA defeats Belarus 3-2 after prevailing in crucial doubles rubber
Coco Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers celebrate after winning the title for USA | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Sabalenka/Sasnovich BLR
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Vandeweghe/Rogers USA

The USA sealed their first Fed Cup title since 2010 after beating Belarus 3-2 in a thrilling final. Coco Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers stepped up to the occasion for their country, taking the deciding doubles rubber 6-3, 7-6 against an inexperienced team of Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who are both singles specialists and have never partnered each other before today’s final.

Tight start to the match

The scratch pairing of Sabalenka and Sasnovich made a surprisingly good start to the match, with the latter’s serve proving to be too powerful for their American opponents with Sabalenka being able to finish off the points at the net easily. It looked to be a serve-dominated contest when Vandeweghe followed suit with yet another love service hold, and neither pairs were able to find the breakthrough on the return.

Vandeweghe and Rogers discuss tactics during the match | Photo: Daniel Kopatsch/Paul Zimmer
Vandeweghe and Rogers discuss tactics during the match | Photo: Daniel Kopatsch/Paul Zimmer

The Americans make the first breakthrough and take the first set 6-3

The first break points finally came when Sabalenka started to throw in wild errors from the baseline and Vandeweghe sealed the deal with a powerful forehand return. Rogers then held her serve to consolidate the break but it was also helped by the Belarusian pairing’s unforced errors once again, especially at 0-15 when Sabalenka sent an easy put-away drive-volley long. The momentum was all with the American pair, and they eventually claimed the second set 6-3 after 34 minutes.

Sasnovich and Sabalenka fights back

Vandeweghe and Rogers seemed headed towards the win after clinching a comfortable service hold in the opening game of the second set, and the Belarusian team started to look demoralized. Everything was all but over when Sasnovich conceded a break point on her serve, with the Americans strolling through the set. However, a massive plot twist soon followed as the home players found a way to get through the tough service hold before recovering from 40-0 down to grab a break point in the next game. Despite not being able to convert, that break point acted as a confidence-booster for the Belarusians.

Sabalenka and Sasnovich celebrates winning a point | Photo: Daniel Kopatsch/Paul Zimmer
Sabalenka and Sasnovich celebrates winning a point | Photo: Daniel Kopatsch/Paul Zimmer

The Belarusians open up a huge lead

Within a blink of an eye, the momentum shifted to the home team and they went on an incredible and ruthless run, powering to a 5-2 lead having won four consecutive games and breaking serve twice in the process. The Belarusians were dominating play literally everywhere on the court, bossing the baseline rallies and the net games as well.

Vandeweghe and Rogers fight back, claims the title for USA

Nerves definitely kicked in for the 19-year-old Sabalenka and 23-year-old Sasnovich while they were 5-2 up. They twice failed to serve out the set, wasting two set points in the process, and almost let frustration overwhelm them, but fortunately, they were able to regain the lead with another break in the 11th game.

For an incredible third time in the set, the Belarusians were unable to serve out the set and they were eventually brought into a tiebreak by an inspired Vandeweghe and Rogers, who played some great tennis to level the scores once again. Ultimately, Sabalenka and Sasnovich ran out of steam, hitting yet another unforced error on match point which gifted the USA with their first Fed Cup title since 2010.

Team USA celebrates winning the title | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Team USA celebrates winning the title | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography