Melbourne VIC, Australia, 1 February 2017 |

Following her run to the fourth round of the Australian Open, Daria (Dasha) Gavrilova will spearhead the nation’s Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II first round clash with Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 11 and 12.

The world No.26 will be joined in the line-up by [153] Ashleigh Barty (Qld), [186] Arina Rodionova (Vic) and former world No.3 in doubles, Casey Dellacqua (WA). Rising star 16-year-old [264] Destanee Aiava (Vic) will travel with the team in the traditional ‘orange girl’ role.

The Aussies are preparing to face a full-strength Ukraine team likely to be led by world No.13 Elena Svitolina. Although not taking the opposition lightly, Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik is looking forward to the challenge and the quality competition, and seeing the team rise to the occasion.

“This is a great opportunity for Dasha to step up and lead the Fed Cup team for the first time,” Alicia Molik said.

“She’s had an incredible summer and will come into the tie with a lot of confidence. It’s very pleasing to see her continue the momentum from her strong Australian Open performances by winning her opening round in St Petersburg this week, it’s not easy to deal with the big change in conditions between a Melbourne summer and a European winter, with the weather, court surface and time differences all requiring major adjustments.

“I’m also delighted to welcome both Casey and Ash back into the team. As well as being a formidable doubles pair, Ash showed us again what a great player she is maturing into, beating some quality opponents ranked well above her in the first two rounds of the AO. And Arina continues to offer versatility, with the ability to step up in either singles or doubles. She’s almost halved her ranking in the past 12 months and showed some good form over summer, qualifying for the tough Sydney and Auckland events.”

Missing from the team is Australia’s most capped Fed Cup player Sam Stosur, who has decided to focus on WTA events.

“Sam has been an incredible asset to the Fed Cup team, and a great representative for Australia,” Molik said. “Sam hasn’t missed a tie for six years and I respect and support her decision to prioritise WTA events at this time.”

The last time Australia played Ukraine was 2011, with the Ukrainians winning the World Group play-off 3-2.

The teams have met three times in Fed Cup with Ukraine having the upper hand, leading the series 2-1. Australia will be looking to even up the score with a win next week, and the chance to compete in the World Group play-off in April.

Australia is one of only four nations to have competed in every edition of the world teams event and sits second on the all-time champions list, having won the title seven times: 1964, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974.