Wednesday, 20 November, 2019

France crush Australian dreams to win Fed Cup final

French fans cheer for compatriot Kristina Mladenovic during her match against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic during their Fed Cup tennis final in Perth Mladenovic powers France to 1-0 lead over Aus...
Shannon Reynolds | 10 November, 2019, 18:26

Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic were 6-4, 6-3 winners against Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur to give France their third title in the women's team event.

France claimed their first Fed Cup title in 16 years on Sunday with a 3-2 victory after defeating hosts Australia in the decisive doubles rubber in the final in Perth.

Mladenovic's 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 upset now means France hold a 2-1 lead in the final.

France opted to bring in world No.122 Parmentier as a substitute for Caroline Garcia, who Barty thrashed 6-0 6-0 in Saturday's singles rubber.

A crowd favourite, Barty had RAC Arena roaring after she took an early 3-0 lead after seven minutes, before she closed out the opening set 6-0 in just 29 minutes.

Mladenovic and Garcia, who won the 2016 French Open doubles title, bounced back from going an early break down in the first set to expose Stosur's weaknesses, with the veteran out-of-sorts and making too many mistakes.

While Australia couldn't get the flawless start they hoped for with Tomljanovic falling in the opening match, Barty stood tall as she made easy work of Garcia, as she continues to nearly single handedly bring Australian women's tennis back from the brink.

World number one Barty, stunned by Mladenovic in a singles rubber earlier Sunday, did her best to keep Australia in the hunt, but the French pair were clinical, racing to victory as their team-mates went wild.

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As the day began, Barty picked up right where she left off on Saturday, firing a forehand to set up a volley victor to claim an early break lead at 2-0. Barty moved through a handful of routine holds before grasping a break point at 4-3, but the World No.1 squandered that chance with a forehand error, and Mladenovic eventually held on for 4-4.

The Australian hit a fierce dipping return of serve that Mladenovic could only tip into the net - the first set was Barty's 6-2, after 34 minutes.

At this juncture, Barty's forehand miscues were increasing in frequency, while Mladenovic was finding flawless backhand passes, leading to the Frenchwoman's first break of service to lead 5-4.

Tomljanovic appeared headed for victory when she broke in the sixth game of the second set, but she was unable to consolidate.

"I think that's probably the best tennis match I've ever played in my life", an elated Barty said. "I was really in the zone", she said.

An ace to Mladenovic made it five match points at 6-1, and then she forced one final error from the Australian to clinch the match 2-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Parmentier did likewise, and games went on serve until the 10th game of the match. I felt like in the first three or four of my servus games I was in control of a lot of the points and Carro's the type of player that likes court position and she likes to be up in the court - so that was a key factor for me today.

But captain Alica Molik kept faith with her and she bounced back to beat Parmentier 6-4, 7-5.

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