Even without Serena and Venus Williams, the United States proved to be too strong for Australia in their Fed Cup playoff, clinching a spot in the elite eight-nation World Group next year with a 4-0 sweep.
CoCo Vandeweghe replaced Madison Keys in the opening reverse singles match on Sunday and came from a set and a break down to beat Australian No. 1 Sam Stosur 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, giving the Americans an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five playoff on temporary indoor clay court at Pat Rafter Arena.
Vandeweghe saved two breakpoints in the last game before closing with a service winner.
The U.S. traveled to Australia without its leading three singles players, with the Williams sisters and Sloane Stephens skipping the playoff and leaving No. 25-ranked Keys as the highest-ranked player on the team.
U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez said Keys’ win in the opening singles match against Daria Gavrilova gave the Americans momentum, and Christina McHale’s 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 win over Stosur on Saturday gave her team a 2-0 lead and a lot of confidence in the best-of-five-match playoff.
Vandeweghe combined with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to win the doubles 6-1, 6-4 over Australia’s pair Gavrilova and Arina Rodionova after the second reverse singles match was scrapped.
Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber blasted her way past Simona Halep on Sunday to put Germany 2-1 up in their Fed Cup World Group play-off away to Romania.
In a superb performance, Kerber needed just 67 minutes to seal her 6-2, 6-2 victory over Halep, who received plenty of vocal support from the home crowd at the Sala Polivalenta Arena in Cluj-Napoca.
“It was a tough match. Simona is a tough player. I am really happy about my performance today. The atmosphere here is amazing and I really enjoyed it,” said Kerber.
Her team-mate Andrea Petkovic now has the chance to give the visitors an unassailable 3-1 lead when she faces Irina-Camelia Begu in Sunday’s second singles rubber.
It had finished all square on Saturday after Romania’s Halep, ranked sixth in the world, needed just under three hours to secure her 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 win over Petkovic after Kerber had beaten Begu.
World number four Garbine Muguruza ensured Spain’s place back in the World Group of the Fed Cup with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Roberta Vinci in Lleida on Sunday.
Muguruza’s second victory of the tie gave Spain an unassailable 3-0 lead after she overcame Francesca Schiavone and Carla Suarez Navarro eased past US Open finalist Vinci on Saturday.
Spain, captained by former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez, return to the World Group for the first time since losing to eventual winners Czech Republic in 2014.