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No Williams sisters, no problem as USA target Fed Cup final

Saturday, April 21, 2018

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PARIS, France (AFP) — The United States aim to prove again that they can thrive without Serena and Venus Williams when they tackle France for a place in a second consecutive Fed Cup final this weekend.

In 2017, the US won the tournament for the 18th time with a nerve-racking 3-2 victory over Belarus which was only decided in the last doubles rubber when CoCo Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers claimed the winning point.

The Williams sisters did not feature in that final in Minsk but they returned to national colours in February this year in a first-round victory over the Netherlands which set-up this weekend's clash in France.

“I'm very confident that we can make it to another final,” Vandeweghe told fedcup.com ahead of the tie on indoor clay at Aix-en-Provence.

The American team boast world number nine and US Open champion Sloane Stephens, 13th-ranked Madison Keys, Vandeweghe, who is at 16 in the rankings, and doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

France, two-time Fed Cup champions, will be led by world number 20 Kristina Mladenovic but other team members Pauline Parmentier and Amandine Hesse are a modest 122 and 204, respectively.

The hosts are without world number seven Caroline Garcia and 35th-ranked Alize Cornet who is facing a disciplinary probe after allegations she missed three drugs tests.

Adding to their problems is that Mladenovic is carrying a back injury.

Vandeweghe is on a 13-match win streak in the Fed Cup and has not been defeated in three years in the tournament.

The US have won 11 of 13 Fed Cup meetings against France. However, the French have won two of the nations' most recent three meetings.

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