Seville, Spain, 9 November 2023 | Leigh Rogers

The Australian team is ready for a must-win battle with Kazakhstan at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Spain.

“It’s a do-or-die one, isn’t it? It’s all or nothing,” Australian captain Alicia Molik said ahead of their clash in Seville.

The Aussie team is looking to bounce back strongly after losing their opening round-robin tie against Slovenia on Tuesday.

A victory will keep their slim hopes alive of advancing to the semifinals, while a loss will signal the end of their 2023 campaign.

The good news is that Australia will have a full team to select from, following the late arrivals of doubles stars Storm Hunter and Ellen Perez from the WTA Finals in Mexico.

“We are at complete full strength,” Molik said. “Now it’s just working out our best chances against what we think will be their best team.”

Australian team
Player Singles ranking Doubles ranking
Kimberly Birrell No.113 No.233
Storm Hunter No.172 No.1
Daria Saville No.206 No.168
Ellen Perez No.500 No.17
Ajla Tomljanovic No.549
Captain: Alicia Molik

Molik is wary of a Kazakhstan line-up led by world No.4 Elena Rybakina.

Rybakina won the Wimbledon 2022 title and was an Australian Open finalist earlier this season.

“(They have) one of the best players in the world in that team,” Molik said. “We have to go all out, have to bring our A game.”

Kazakhstan team
Player Singles ranking Doubles ranking
Elena Rybakina No.4 No.119
Yulia Putintseva No.69 No.345
Zhibek Kulambayeva No.515 No.151
Aruzhan Sagandikova No.751 No.865
Anna Danilina No.814 No.56
Captain: Yaroslava Shvedova

Molik is hopeful the high pressure will inspire her Australian team to play their best tennis.

“Sometimes it’s good actually when you need to win, because there is no other option. You really are forced into a corner,” she said.

“I think sometimes in tennis when you have less options, it really creates those decisions of urgency and really separates the good players.

“That’s our challenge for Thursday. It is a big challenge for us, but anything is possible.”

Australia’s top-ranked singles player, Kimberly Birrell, agrees the pressure could prove beneficial.

“We really thrive in environments like that. I think us Aussies, we do well as the underdogs,” the 25-year-old said.

Australia’s round-robin clash with Kazakhstan is broadcast live in Australia on the Nine Network (from 8pm AEDT).

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