Excitement builds for Fed Cup success
As the fast-rising Daria Gavrilova prepares for her Australian Fed Cup debut, team captain Alicia Molik is targeting a title in the world team event.
Excited captain Alicia Molik believes Daria Gavrilova’s inclusion gives Australia a genuine chance to win the Fed Cup for the first time in more than 40 years.
Ruled eligible by the International Tennis Federation only last month, the Russian-born former world junior No.1 has been included in Australia’s team for next week’s World Group playoff with the USA in Brisbane.
Also boasting one-time US Open champion and French Open runner-up Sam Stosur in her ranks, Molik has opted for an indoor clay court at Pat Rafter Arena to best utilise her singles spearheads.
Gavrilova, who grew up on the slower surface, and Stosur both showcased their claycourt prowess by surging into the third round of the WTA Tour event in Charleston this week.
Gavrilova welcomed the surface choice and said she couldn’t wait to wear the green and gold for the first time in the prestigious teams’ event.
“I’m a good mover, I enjoy sliding on the clay,” the 22-year-old said in a teleconference after her impressive 6-4 6-0 second-round win over Australian Open quarterfinalist Zhang Shuai.
“I have more time, I should be aggressive. It suits me.”
Gavrilova, currently the world No.37 with a bullet following her charge to the Australian Open fourth round in January, and the 26th-ranked Stosur give Australia two elite singles players for the first time in years.
They will join doubles pair Casey Dellacqua and Arina Rodionova for the playoff on April 16-17, leaving Molik hopeful Australia can make a swift return to the eight-team World Group in 2017.
“I’ve truly believe we’ve been good enough (in recent years) to win the Fed Cup and having Dasha now absolutely bolsters us,” said Molik, pointing out that Ashleigh Barty’s comeback to the sport would only further improve the team’s stocks.
Barty, who won the junior Wimbledon crown at 15, has returned to tennis following a short stint playing in the Women’s Big Bash League with Brisbane.
“It’s a really exciting prospect for us if we do make the World Group,” Molik said.
Molik, though, is not underestimating the USA after American captain Mary Joe Fernandez on Thursday named a formidable line-up despite Serena and Venus Williams both being unavailable.
The US team is Madison Keys, CoCo Vandeweghe, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Christina McHale.
Australia, champions seven times, last won the Fed Cup in 1974 when former world No.1 Evonne Goolagong Cawley was dominating.