U.S. TO FACE BELARUS IN MINSK
IN FED CUP FINAL
Ashley Marshall | June 22, 2017
Team USA will look to win a record-extending 18th Fed Cup championship in November when it travels to the Belarus capital city Minsk in search of its first title in 17 years.
The conclusion to the 2017 Fed Cup campaign will take place on an indoor hard court at the Chizhovka Arena in Minsk, a 9,000-seat venue centrally located in the heart of Belarus.
The arena, roughly 4,400 miles and a 12-hour flight from New York, played host to Belarus’ 3-2 semifinal victory over Switzerland in April as well as the country's first-round triumph over the Netherlands in February.
The U.S., which last reached the final in 2010, also played two home ties in the earlier rounds, first in Hawaii against Germany and then in Tampa against defending champion Czech Republic.
Team lineups will not be announced until late October or early November. ADVERTISEMENT
For the U.S., some combination of Madison Keys, CoCo Vandeweghe, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Lauren Davis, CiCi Bellis, Alison Riske and Shelby Rogers figure as the most likely options for captain Kathy Rinaldi, with Venus Williams also a possible option for the tie. Serena Williams has already said she won’t return to the court this year after announcing her pregnancy.
Victoria Azarenka, who just this week returned to action after giving birth to her first child, Leo, would be an obvious choice as Belarus’ No. 1 player if she remains healthy. The two-time Australian Open champion was born in Minsk and has a combined 21-5 Fed Cup record between singles and doubles.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich, ranked No. 85, is currently the only Belarusian woman inside the Top 100. Both Aryna Sabalenka, No. 128, and Olga Govortsova, No. 137, are candidates to feature in the tie, too. Belarus' top doubles player, Lidziya Marozava, is No. 101 in the doubles rankings.
Should Team USA win its 18th Fed Cup championship, Kathy Rinaldi would be the first U.S. captain to guide a team to the title in the first year as captain since Marty Riessen led the U.S. to victory in 1986 with a squad of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.
The U.S. and Belarus have met just once previously in Fed Cup play, with the Americans taking a 5-0 victory in a 2012 World Group II first-round tie. That U.S. team was paced by the Williams sisters, Christina McHale and Liezel Huber, with Serena and McHale each winning two singles matches and Venus and Huber combining for the doubles point. Of the players expected to compete for Belarus in the 2017 Final, only Govortsova competed in the 2012 matchup.