Molik: we can be Fed Cup contenders
A clean-sweep against Serbia has seen Australia retain a World Group II position - and the green-and-gold may get a shot at the Fed Cup title earlier than expected.
Team captain Alicia Molik has sounded a warning to Fed Cup rivals after Australia swept Serbia aside 4-0 in their World Group II play-off in Zrenjanin.
Expected changes to the tournament structure mean the team is in with a chance of winning the competition next year.
A loss to Ukraine in February meant Australia slipped into the World Group II but, with the International Tennis Federation expected to sign off on a 16-team World Group in August, the young team will find themselves back at the top table when the 2018 competition begins in February.
“It’s where we belong and where we feel we deserve to be,” Molik told AAP.
“We are so dangerous and it’s open slather next season. We can be contenders.”
Straight-sets wins to Daria Gavrilova and the doubles pairing of Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua made it a 4-0 clean sweep on Sunday after Gavrilova and Barty had got the visitors off to a flying start on day one.
World No.130 Nina Stojanovic, who was a surprise omission from Saturday’s singles rubber, was no match for Gavrilova, who prevailed 6-0 6-3 before Dellacqua and Barty, who turns 21 on Monday, survived a second-set fightback to win 6-1 7-5.
“It feels great. Everyone contributed,” Molik said.
“It’s a different feeling to get it done in four rubbers. The girls have been unbelievable all week, it’s a nice feeling and we will be celebrating tonight.”
Teenager Destanee Aiava did not get any game time in Serbia but Molik praised her contribution off the court.
“I think it’s a nice balance to have Destanee,” she said. “She’s brought a great level to practice sessions and pushed everyone all week.
“It’s been a pleasure to get to know her better.”
Belarus became the first team into the Fed Cup final on Sunday, winning their tie 3-1 over Switzerland while in the other semifinal the United States and Czech Republic were locked at 1-1 after Saturday’s opening rubbers.