Published: Sun, November 10, 2019
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Fed Cup: France Beat Australia, Win Their First Title In 16 Years

Fed Cup: France Beat Australia, Win Their First Title In 16 Years

Earlier on Saturday, Fed Cup debutant Ajla Tomljanovic was outclassed by France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-1 6-1 in the opening singles rubber.

Mladenovic combined with Caroline Garcia to beat Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-3 in the decisive doubles match at Perth Arena.

Barty's 15-match Fed Cup winning streak came crashing to a halt as Mladenovic mounted a lion-hearted comeback to prevail in two hours and 31 minutes and put France up 2-1 in the best-of-five rubbers final.

On day one of competition, France had taken the early advantage when Mladenovic dismantled Tomlanovic 6-1, 6-1, but Barty produced an nearly flawless performance to deny Caroline Garcia a single game, winning 6-0, 6-0 to level the tie.

But it counted for little in a match where the Australian held serve just once - in the second last game - and managed only two winners for the match compared to her opponent's 16.

The French kept things going in the second set, with Stosur broken in the second game to give the visitors a big advantage.

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.

Stung, Barty rallied for 3-3 but the errors again crept in and the set ultimately went to a tense tie breaker where Mladenovic triumphed.

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. "I fought with everything I had left", said Barty.

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

"I thought Ajla did a great job yesterday. we all knew Ajla would be so much better today", she said.

Fresh from partnering Hungary's Timea Babos to take out the doubles title at last week's season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China, Mladenovic is set to pose a stern test for Barty. That's the way I love to play my tennis.

The French stunned many when they played world no. 122 Parmentier ahead of world number 60 Alize Cornet and teammate Caroline Garcia, who both watched on from the sidelines.

Tomljanovic's serve further disintegrated in the second set as Mladenovic roared to a 5-1 lead before sealing the match when Tomljanovic slapped a return well beyond the baseline.

Australia's long-serving Stosur, surprisingly overlooked for the singles despite her outstanding Fed Cup record, came into the decider cold.

A month after becoming eligible to represent Australia, Croatia-born Tomljanovic rewarded captain Alicia Molik's faith with a gutsy 6-4 7-5 win over veteran Pauline Parmentier to level the tie at 2-2.

"Certainly from a complete point of view and having a complete game [it was the best]", Barty said following the match.

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