Sunday, April 22, 2018

Stephens leads U.S. into 2nd straight Fed Cup final

   Thanks largely to Sloane Stephens, the United States today reached its second consecutive Fed Cup final.
   The 25-year-old Fresno product won both of her matches in the Americans' 3-2 victory over France on indoor clay in Aix-en-Provence, France.
   No. 9-ranked Stephens, who won the U.S. Open as an unseeded player last September, routed No. 20 Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-0 in 54 minutes to give the United States a 2-1 lead. No. 13 Madison Keys then clinched the victory be defeating No. 122 Pauline Parmentier 7-6 (4), 6-4.
   Stephens beat Parmentier 7-6 (3), 7-5 on Saturday to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
   France was missing three of its top four singles players in the semifinals: No. 7 Caroline Garcia, No. 35 Alize Cornet and No. 104 Oceane Dodin.
   Absent for the U.S. were its top singles player, No. 8 Venus Williams, and 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams, who has played in two tournaments since delivering her first child last Sept. 1.
   The Americans will visit the Czech Republic, which won the championship five times in six years from 2011 through 2016, in the Nov. 10-11 final. The Czechs outclassed Germany 4-1 in Stuttgart, Germany.
   The U.S. beat Belarus 3-2 in last year's final. 

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