TO LEAD TEAM USA IN FED CUP FINAL
Ashley Marshall | November 1, 2017
Reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens and world No. 12 Coco Vandeweghe will anchor Team USA in the Fed Cup final later this month.
First-year captain Kathy Rinaldi also nominated world No. 59 Shelby Rogers and No. 70 Alison Riske to the squad to face Belarus in Minsk.
The best-of-five match will be played at the Chizhovka Arena, Nov. 11-12, on an indoor hard court. Chizhovka Arena hosted Belarus' two other home ties earlier this year.
Belarus’ Fed Cup Captain Eduard Dubrou named No. 78 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 87 Aliaksandra Sasnovich, No. 130 Vera Lapko and No. 477 Lidziya Marozava to face Team USA.
Belarus has just three players currently ranked inside the Top 200, led by 19-year-old Sabalenka. Sasnovic, ranked No. 87, is the nation’s only other Top 100 player. Marozava is Belarus' top-ranked doubles player at No. ADVERTISEMENT 65 in the world doubles rankings.
Two-time Australian Open champion and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, currently ranked No. 204, was not named to the team.
Play begins on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 2:30 p.m. local time (6:30 a.m. ET) with two singles matches. On Sunday, play will continue, starting at 2 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET) with two reverse singles matches and the doubles match. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match. Tennis Channel will present live daily coverage.
The U.S. holds a 1-0 record over Belarus in Fed Cup competition, sweeping the Belarusians, 5-0, in the World Group II First Round in February 2012 in Worcester, Mass. The American team for that tie was comprised of Serena and Venus Williams. New world No. 1 Azarenka was named to the Belarus team for that tie, but she had to withdraw due to a lower back injury after winning the Australian Open a week prior.
Singles Ranking: 12
First Fed Cup: 2010 vs. Italy
Ties Played: 6
Singles Win-Loss: 5-3
Doubles Win-Loss: 4-0
Vandeweghe has developed into a natural leader on the U.S. Fed Cup team – and she has turned in the performances to match. She won all three points in the semifinal against defending champion Czech Republic and collected two wins in the quarterfinal with Germany.
Vandeweghe has won nine consecutive Fed Cup matches between singles and doubles, dating back to a World Group II loss to Argentina’s Paula Ormaechea more than two years ago.
The 26-year-old has the most Fed Cup experience of the four Americans on the roster, accounting for nine of their combined 17 wins. Maybe more importantly, Vandeweghe is the only player in the finals to have contested a Fed Cup final before – she played two singles matches against Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone in Team USA’s loss to Italy in 2010.
Singles Ranking: 13
First Fed Cup: 2012 vs. Ukraine
Ties Played: 4
Singles Win-Loss: 2-2
Doubles Win-Loss: 1-1
Stephens’ last Fed Cup appearance came in a 4-0 sweep of Poland in the 2016 World Group II Quarterfinal, when she defeated Magna Linette in straight sets. Prior to that, she played in ties in three consecutive years from 2012-14, helping the U.S. to World Group Playoff wins against Ukraine and Sweden.
The reigning US Open champion, who needed surgery on her left foot last winter and was unable to walk in April this year, will likely be called on to play singles. She has played just two tournaments since her success in New York – in Wuhan and Beijing – so she should be fresh.
Singles Ranking: 59
First Fed Cup: 2017 vs. Germany
Ties Played: 2
Singles Win-Loss: 0-1
Doubles Win-Loss: 1-0
Rogers made her Fed Cup debut against Germany in Hawaii earlier this year. Partnering Bethanie Mattek-Sands after the tie was already decided, Rogers picked up her first win for Team USA when Laura Siegemund and Carina Witthoeft were forced to retire in the first set trailing, 4-1.
Rogers lost in straight sets to Katerina Siniakova when the U.S. played the Czech Republic in Tampa this spring, and she could be called on for singles action if Vandeweghe or Stephens are unable to play.
Singles Ranking: 70
First Fed Cup: 2014 vs. Italy
Ties Played: 3
Singles Win-Loss: 1-1
Doubles Win-Loss: 0-1
Riske has represented the U.S. in three of the past four years, most recently in this year’s World Group quarterfinal against Germany, when she defeated Andrea Petkovic, 7-6, 6-2, on Day 1 in Hawaii.
At No. 70 in the WTA rankings, she’s the lowest-ranked American on the squad. She reached the final in the season-opening tournament in Shenzhen, China, and climbed to a career-high No. 36 in the world, but she has recorded just two wins since Wimbledon.