CoCo Vandeweghe gave the United States a 2-1 lead over the hosts Belarus in the Fed Cup final on Sunday with a straight-sets win over teenager Aryna Sabalenka.

This season’s Australian Open and US Open semifinalist Vandeweghe, ranked 10th in the world, fired 12 aces to win 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in her first ever meeting with the 19-year-old Sabalenka.

“I knew if I just kept giving myself opportunities and getting my nose in front in her service games, I’d keep getting opportunities and she’d eventually break down,” Vandeweghe said.

“She did what she’s supposed to do and did what I expected her to do – just swing and pray for it to go in and she did. So you just got to recover and keep fighting.

“And then it showed in the second set, she withered when I kept the pressure on her, and then I just closed it out.”

The opponents both played with confidence from the start on the hard court at the packed Minsk Chizhovka 8 000-seat arena, holding their serves until the 11th game when Vandeweghe broke.

But Sabalenka broke back immediately under the watchful gaze of Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko to force a tiebreak, which the 25-year-old American won to take a one-set lead after 50 minutes on court.

In the second Sabalenka, who is 78th in the world, suddenly lost her nerve allowing Vandeweghe to break twice for a commanding 5-0 lead minutes before she took the set and the match, sealing her victory with an accurate backhand.

Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich will attempt to force a decisive fifth rubber, in the doubles, when she takes on US Open champion Sloane Stephens in Sunday’s second singles.

On the opening day Vandeweghe put USA into the lead with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, while Sabalenka beat Stephens 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to pull the scores level at 1-1.


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