Saturday, November 11, 2017

Stephens upset; U.S. tied 1-1 in Fed Cup final

   The United States recorded one victory on the opening day of the Fed Cup final.
   But it didn't come from U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.
   CoCo Vandeweghe, who cracked the top 10 for the first time in the year-end rankings at No. 10, defeated 87th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 6-4 in today's first match in Minsk, Belarus.
   But the 13th-ranked Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, lost to 19-year-old Aryna Sabalenka, ranked 78th, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Stephens, 24, is 0-5 since beating countrywoman Madison Keys for her first Grand Slam title.
   The best-of-five series will continue on Sunday with the reverse singles matches followed by doubles. The United States has won 17 Fed Cup titles, more than any other team, but none since 2000. The U.S. is playing in its first Fed Cup final since 2010 and Belarus its first ever.
   Vandeweghe, 25, reached her second Bank of the West Classic final at Stanford in August, losing to close friend and countrywoman Madison Keys.
   As always in the Fed Cup and Davis Cup, the series between the United States and Belarus is as noteworthy for who's missing as for who's playing. Absent are Serena Williams (maternity leave), 37-year-old Venus Williams (skipping Fed Cup this year), Keys (wrist) and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (knee surgery) for the United States and Victoria Azarenka (child custody issues) for Belarus.
   Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Azarenka are former world No. 1s in singles with multiple Grand Slam titles. The same goes for Mattek-Sands in doubles.

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