Australia gunning for Fed Cup glory
Back in the World Group in 2019, Australia's Fed Cup team believes it can break a 45-year title drought in the international team competition.
Ash Barty believes Australia can break a 45-year Fed Cup title drought after piloting the one-time tennis superpower back into the World Group for the first time since 2015.
Barty’s back-to-back singles wins over Quirine Lemoine and Lesley Kerkhove led Australia to a 4-1 victory over the Netherlands in their World Group Play-off tie in Wollongong.
Daria Gavrilova sealed Australia’s return to the eight-nation elite with a 6-3 6-2 defeat of Lemoine that gave the hosts an unbeatable 3-1 lead after Barty outclassed Kerkhove 6-4 6-2 in Sunday’s first reverse singles match.
Gavrilova and Destanee Aiava added the icing on the cake with a 6-3 6-2 win over Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs in the dead doubles rubber.
World No.19 Barty craves a crack at the title that has eluded Australia since 1974.
“It’s been a bit of a tricky spot for us the last couple of years, when we’ve been in World Group II,” she said.
“Yes, we’re doing our best to win every single tie and every rubber but there’s no title at the end. So it’s a bit of a different feeling.
“We’ve known it’s been a work in progress to get back into the World Group and now we’re in a perfect position to put ourselves in with a chance for a shot at the title next year.”
With Barty and Gavrilova entrenched in the world’s top 25 and Grand Slam champion Sam Stosur – who”s also a former world No.1 doubles exponent – another singles option for captain Alicia Molik, Australia can “absolutely” lift the trophy in 2019 according to their spearhead.
“You look at the nations who have dominated in the last 10 years or so, one of the most dominant teams is the Czech Republic,” Barty said.
“They have quality singles players and a quality doubles combination and that’s what we have.”
The draw for next year’s eight-team World Group competition will be held after the 2018 final in November.
Australia faces a quarterfinal showdown with one of the top four seeds, likely to be the Czech Republic, defending champions the United States, France and Germany.
If Australia draw the Czechs or Germany, they will host the tie.
But a clash with the USA would be away, while a coin toss would be needed to determine who hosted any tie between Australia and France.