Ash Barty Heads Australia’s Bid To End Their 45-Year Fed Cup Title Drought - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Heads Australia’s Bid To End Their 45-Year Fed Cup Title Drought

Will it be jubilation or heartbreak for team Australian this weekend?

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Ashleigh Barty - Fed Cup 2019 (via Twitter, @FedCup)

When Australia last won the Fed Cup, none of the participants in this weekend’s final was even born. Including both the team captains.

1974 was the last time the country triumphed in the team tournament. A perhaps surprising statistic for a country who is the third most decorated in the history of the competition. World No.1 Ash Barty will lead her team when they played France on home soil in Perth. It is the first time in almost 20 years the two have locked horns with both being optimistic about their chances of victory.

“When you are playing for your country and you are playing in a Fed Cup final, it is pretty easy to get up and about and be as ready as you can,” said Barty, who recently won the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
“It’s a format that I love, I cherish it. This is going to be a really precious week.”

Barty’s performance in the final could be critical to Australia’s hopes. She is the only top 50 player in her team, but Ajla Tomljanovic is just outside in 51st place. In comparison, France has four players ranked inside the top 65 in the singles. Kristina Mladenovic is also the current world No.2 in doubles. Something Barty is wary of.

“Kiki has the ability to play well in the big moments,” she told AAP.
“Obviously she was on a bit of a heater in Shenzhen in doubles and she’s a beautiful doubles player. We’ve seen that time and time again.
“I’m sure, without knowing the team until Friday, that her name will feature heavily on Saturday and Sunday.
“So it’s someone I would love to play and try and right my wrongs from midway through the year when we played in Rome.”

Whilst being the visitors, France are by no means intimidated by the occasion. They have only won the title twice before with the most recent occurring back in 2003. Three years ago, they narrowly missed out on winning the trophy after losing the final match in their tie against the Czech Republic.

Caroline Garcia was one of the Frenchwomen who featured in the 2016 final. She believes that loss has made France even stronger.

“That final was a great lesson for me and all of us,” Garcia reflects. “We now have the experience of losing and we don’t want to have the feeling of losing a final again. We have been there before, whereas the Australian girls haven’t. It is an important factor for us.”

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Ajla Tomljanovic has been chosen to open up Australia’s campaign on Saturday against Mladenovic. The match will be her first ever representing her country in the Fed Cup. The former Croatian No.1 was recently approved to play for Australia following an appeal to the ITF. A somewhat controversial decision in the aftermath of Aljaz Bedene’s failed attempt to represent Great Britain a couple years ago.

Tomljanovic was picked ahead of veteran player Sam Stosur. The 35-year-old has played 57 Fed Cup matches in her career and has played in 31 ties. She has won more singles matches in the competition than any other Australian player in history.

“It is exceptionally tough to decide your two singles players for day one. For us it was a matter of match-ups and I feel like we are going in with our strongest two players for Saturday,” said team captain Alicia Molik.
“I feel like it’s the right decision… within this team everyone brought such a high level in practice. It has been difficult, sets have been very close and that’s really the way that we want it. It should be a tough decision.”

As for the second singles match, Barty will take on Garcia. They are currently level at 2-2 in their head-to-head, But Barty won their most recent meeting at the Wuhan Open this year. However  French captain, Julien Benneteau, is confident in his players.

“In the first two rounds (against Belgium and Romania), we proved that we could win with different players in singles. It is an advantage,” he stated.

The final will start on Saturday at 11:00 local time (0300 GMT).

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Fed Cup

Injury Heartbreak Motivates Australia In Billie Jean King Cup Tie With Mexico

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SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 09: Storm Hunter of Team Australia reacts during the Billie Jean King Cup Finals group stage match between Australia and Kazakhstan at Estadio de La Cartuja on November 09, 2023 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images for ITF)

The captain of the Australian Billie Jean King Cup team says they are supporting one of their top players after she suffered a serious injury on the eve of their latest tie. 

Storm Hunter, who is currently ranked No.3 in the world for doubles, has suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon whilst training at a practice session on Thursday with her teammates. The severity of the injury means she will almost certainly be forced to pull out of this summer’s Olympic Games where she would have been a medal contender, as well as both the French Open and Wimbledon. Hunter has already won a WTA 1000 title this season in Dubai and was also runner-up in Indian Wells. In both of those tournaments, she was partnering Kateřina Siniaková. 

“Unfortunately yesterday in our last practice before the tie, I went down and scans last night confirmed that I have ruptured my Achilles tendon,” said Hunter.
“I am devastated and heartbroken, but incredibly grateful to be around the team and I know I have a great group of people around me that will help me get back on the court as soon as possible.
“Thank you everyone so much everyone for your messages of support and love. I’m excited to stay for the tie and support our Aussie girls.”

According to the Australian press, team captain Sam Stosur said Hunter’s teammates are ‘rallying behind‘ her and “wishing her the very, very best and the quickest recovery possible.”

As a result of the injury, Daria Saville was brought in to play in her country’s singles match on the opening day of their tie against Mexico on Friday. The world No.94 was in top form as she charged to a comprehensive 6-1, 6-0, win over Marcela Zacarias in less than an hour. 

“Yesterday was a pretty tough day for all of us, pretty emotional,” said Saville who has undergone surgery on her Achilles in the past. 
“It’s so nice to have Stormy here supporting us. Not long ago that kind of happened to me … so we’re giving Stormy a lot of love. 
“I felt like I was pretty determined and clearly that showed.”

Despite the blow, Australia is on the verge of beating Mexico. In the other singles match on the opening day, Arina Rodionova came back from a set down to beat Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. With a 2-0 lead, they only need one more win to clinch the tie. 

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Fed Cup

Italian Captain Tathiana Garbin Reveals Rare Tumor Diagnoses After Team’s Loss At BJK Finals

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Former top 30 player and captain of the Italian Billie Jean King Cup team Tathiana Garbin has publically announced that she is battling a serious health issue. 

Just hours after her team lost to Canada in the Billie Jean King Cup final in Seville on Sunday, the 46-year-old issued a statement confirming that she is undergoing treatment for a rare tumor that has been found in her stomach. Garbin had her first surgery in October but will have to undergo further procedures in the coming weeks. 

“I really wish to thank my Federation, which has constantly supported me with extraordinary solidarity and sensitivity,” Gabin said in a statement sent to the news agency Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA). 
“Seville was a very important event for me, and I absolutely didn’t want to miss it despite being very close to my operation: the Federation has shown they placed full trust in me. There is nothing that makes me prouder than representing the colors of Italy. “

Gabin says she hopes to raise awareness of medical research and prevention by going public about her condition, as well as hoping to inspire others with her story. She is being treated by Professor Di Candio and Professor Morelli at the Cisanello Hospital in Pisa. 

“I thank my BJ King Cup girls, who have shown me incredible love and support. Their presence and support have been a beacon of positivity in these difficult days,” she said in tribute to her team.
“However, I would like to inform you that I will have to undergo a second surgery, required by the treatment planned by the doctors. Thanks to the rapid recovery I have experienced, I am optimistic about being back on court.”

As a player, Garbin peaked at a ranking high of No.22 in singles and No.25 in doubles. Her sole singles title on the WTA Tour occurred in 2000 when she won the Budapest Open in Hungary. Seven years after that, she reached the fourth round of the French Open in what was her best-ever run at a major event. 

Garbin has served as Italy’s Billie Jean King Cup captain since 2016. 

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Fed Cup

Doubles Delight: Great Britain Ousts France 2-1 In Davis Cup Classic

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Image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA/

Great Britain has won the last spot in the Davis Cup finals by prevailing in a highly dramatic clash against France in front of a record crowd in Manchester.

With the must-win showdown level at 1-1, the tie was decided by a rollercoaster doubles match with Dan Evans and Neil Skupski battling their way past Nicolas Mahut and Édouard Roger-Vasselin 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6). In what was one of the most tense matches ever involving the British team, four match points were saved by the hosts. Evans fended off three whilst serving 4-5 down in the decider before Skupski saved one when he was serving two games later. To add to the drama, in the decisive tiebreaker Britain lost a mini-break advantage twice before prevailing on their second match point. 

“I don’t know how we’ve won that fight, sheer fight. Incredible effort from Dan to come out and win this match with me,” said Skupski.
“The first set wasn’t too good. We regrouped, took a toilet [break] and fought as hard as we could. Dan saving three points in the third set. The rest is history and we’re off to Malaga.” 

The triumph caps off what has been a marathon day at The AO Arena with all three matches going the full distance. A total of more than 13,000 seats was sold for the tie which is a record for a single day of Davis Cup action in the UK. 

Earlier in the day, Evans got Britain off to a perfect start by fighting back from a set and a break down to beat Arthur Fils 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, in what was a close fight. At the end of the encounter, there was a tense exchange between the two which continued during the doubles match with Evans seen making gestures towards the Frenchman who was watching from the stands. 

France’s sole victor was Ugo Humbert who beat former Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie 7-6(5),3-6, 7-5. A new confidence blow to the British No.1 who has only won back-to-back matches in one out of his past five tournaments. 

“The team is amazing. We get on very well. Everyone’s played a part. It’s all those guys and girls standing there (in the stands) who are amazing.” Captain Leon Smith commented. 

Britain joins Australia in qualifying from Group B to November’s finals which will be held in Malaga. The team has won all three of their ties played in Manchester with their previous wins being over Australia and Switzerland earlier in the week. 

In total, eight teams have secured their place in the finals. Group stages have also been held in Spain, Croatia and Italy with the top two nations from each of those events progressing. 

Britain is seeking to win the Davis Cup title for only the second time in the Open Era after 2015. 

List of teams through to the knockout stages in Malaga

  • Great Britain
  • Australia
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Canada
  • Serbia
  • Czech Republic
  • Netherlands

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