Fed Cup semifinal: Barty gives Australia 2-1 lead vs Belarus
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The Fed Cup semifinal between Australia and Belarus is going to a doubles decider.
Victoria Azarenka beat Australia’s Sam Stosur in the second reverse singles Sunday 6-1, 6-1 in 59 minutes to even the match at 2-2 on hard courts at Pat Rafter Arena.
In the second set, Azarenka went ahead 3-1 when Stosur double-faulted to set up break point.
Azarenka’s win was met with loud cheers from the small but noisy group of Belarusian fans waving their country’s red and green flag.
In the deciding doubles, Ashleigh Barty and Stosur were expected to play Vera Lapko and Lydziya Marosava of Belarus.
Earlier Sunday, Barty beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-2 in the first reverse singles match to give Australia a 2-1 lead.
Barty is 20-3 in singles in 2019 and won the two-week Miami tournament. She made it to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and also won all three matches she played — two singles and doubles — in helping Australia beat the United States 3-2 in the previous round of the Fed Cup at Asheville, North Carolina.
On the first day, Barty beat regular doubles partner Azarenka 7-6 (2), 6-3 after Sabalenka had given Belarus a 1-0 lead with a 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 win over Stosur.
Barty’s win Saturday ended Azarenka’s 13-match winning streak in the Fed Cup.
It is the first Fed Cup meeting between the countries. Australia last reached the semifinals in 2014, losing 3-1 to Germany, and is looking to make the World Group final for the first time since 1993.
Belarus has reached the semifinals for the last three years and lost the 2017 final 3-2 to the U.S.
France is hosting Romania on clay at Rouen in the other semifinal this weekend, with the teams level at 1-1 after the first day.
The winners meet in the final on Nov. 9-10, with Australia playing at home if it advances.