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{blackbabes} Keys sends US into second straight Fed Cup final

 

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France (AP) -- Defending champion United States will play in a second consecutive Fed Cup final after defeating France 3-2 on Sunday.

Madison Keys secured the decisive point for the visiting team by beating Pauline Parmentier 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the second reverse singles. Keys' victory gave the U.S. an unassailable 3-1 lead over France in the World Group semifinals.

The Czech Republic will host the U.S. in the Nov. 10-11 final after defeating Germany 4-1 in Stuttgart.

The French later salvaged some pride in front of their home crowd as Amandine Hesse and Kristina Mladenovic beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe 6-4, 3-6, 10-6.

The 13th-ranked Keys, a late replacement for Vandeweghe, came back from a 4-1 deficit in the first set and made the decisive break in the ninth game of the second set with two consecutive winners.

''The girls did so well, both today and yesterday. We are very fortunate to have such a strong group and now we are looking forward to what is going to be a great final,'' U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said.

Parmentier fought hard until the end and saved two set points in the opener, but ultimately surrendered to Keys' deep groundstrokes. The Frenchwoman had a chance to break back while trailing 5-4 in the second set but Keys used her big serve to win three consecutive points and seal the match.

Earlier, Sloane Stephens had given a 2-1 lead to the U.S. with a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of Mladenovic.

The U.S. Open champion delivered a ruthless display against the 20th-ranked Mladenovic and prevailed in 54 minutes. Stephens hit 16 winners and converted five of six break chances at the 6,700-capacity Arena Pays d'Aix on indoor clay.

''That was a really good one. You never anticipate a scoreline like the way it turned out but it was really solid,'' said Stephens, who earned two points for the U.S. team over the weekend in the southern French city.

The Americans extended their winning record to 12-2 against the French.

The U.S. beat Belarus 3-2 in the 2017 final.

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