April 17, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) - Belarus secured its place in the World Group of the Fed Cup for the first time when Aliaksandra Sasnovich rallied to beat Russia's Margarita Gasparyan 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 on Sunday.

The victory gave Belarus an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series, which finished 3-2 to the visitors after Russia won the doubles match.

Belarus' Victoria Azarenka, the world No. 5, had also needed three sets to dispatch 18-year-old Darya Kasatkina 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

Kasatkina later paired up with Elena Vesnina to beat Olga Govortsova and Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 6-2 in the doubles.

Russia, a finalist last year, had been trying to maintain its spot in the World Group after a surprise first-round defeat to the Netherlands in February. It was playing this weekend without its Fed Cup stalwart Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Kasatkina and Azarenka won their first matches Saturday to leave the series level at 1-1.

A first for the current Fed Cup format, Belarus played in the 1994 World Group under a different version of the competition, then called the Federation Cup.

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