Tennis
Associated Press 14d

CoCo Vandeweghe to open Fed Cup final vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich

Tennis

MINSK, Belarus -- CoCo Vandeweghe will play in the opening match of the Fed Cup final on Saturday when the United States takes on Belarus looking for its record 18th title in the competition.

The 10th-ranked Vandeweghe was drawn to face Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first singles match. US Open champion Sloane Stephens will then play Aryna Sabalenka.

"You play a match, you win, you lose," Vandeweghe said Friday. "You just try your best. Doesn't matter if I play first, second, not at all. I'm out here for these girls [her teammates], to compete as hard as I can."

On Sunday, Vandeweghe will go up against Sabalenka, and Stephens will meet Sasnovich. In the final doubles match of the best-of-five series, Alison Riske and Shelby Rogers will play for the United States against Vera Lapko and Lidziya Marozava.

Stephens, who retired from a match with a knee injury in China last week, said she is ready to play on the indoor hard court.

"Really looking forward to getting back on the court," the 13th-ranked Stephens said. "I'm excited to be here for a final. Just hoping to have a great weekend."

The Americans won their 17th Fed Cup title in 2000, with Billie Jean King as captain. Since then, they have played in three finals -- 2003, 2009, 2010 -- but lost all of them. Belarus is playing in the Fed Cup final for the first time.

Kathy Rinaldi, in her first season as U.S. captain, is trying to become the first woman since King to lead a winning Fed Cup squad.

"We know we're going to have a very competitive weekend," Rinaldi said. "We look forward to it. We're here to win. We're here to compete. We're going to put our best foot forward. We're going to have each other's backs and compete as a really tight-knit team."

Friday's draw ceremony was presented with a nod to traditional Belarusian culture. There was an archer who perfectly placed an arrow through a tennis ball, which contained Sasnovich's name, to determine the order of play. The official photos featured all of the competitors holding swords. And two men dressed in old-fashioned knight's attire greeted draw attendees on horseback outside Minsk City Hall.

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