Minsk – 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 semi-finalist 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 in one hour 18 minutes
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.
The match between the Belarus Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Sloane Stephens of the USA will continue Sunday's schedule ahead of potentially decisive doubles rubber.
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.