TA Press Release, October 28, 2019
Ash Barty will lead Australia into a historic battle against France for the 2019 BNP Paribas Fed Cup Final, set for 9-10 November at RAC Arena in Perth.
World No.1 Barty (Qld) will headline an impressive squad also featuring Australia’s No.2 Ajla Tomljanovic (Qld), fellow Grand Slam champion Sam Stosur (Qld) and young guns Astra Sharma (WA) and Priscilla Hon (Qld).
Australian captain Alicia Molik said the nation’s first appearance in a Fed Cup Final in 26 years – where the team will be aiming to win Australia’s first Fed Cup title since 1974 – was the culmination of an exciting journey.
“The Fed Cup Final is a momentous occasion for not only the players and team, but the wider tennis community and Australian sporting fans,” Molik said.
“We’ve had many magnificent moments so far to get us to this point and I’m so proud of each and every member of our team who has been a part of this journey.
“We have a lot of experience, and we’ll go about our business the same way, not feeling like we need to change anything because it will be the spectacle of a final.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to showcase the best of our talent, we have a world No.1 in Ash, a green-and-gold debutante in Ajla, another Grand Slam champion in Sam and two of our rising stars, Astra and Pri.
“Hosting a Fed Cup Final in your home country is a rare and precious opportunity. I know our team will not only embrace the challenge, but feed off the support of the fans. It’s going to be a spectacular event and I can’t wait.”
Barty continues to spearhead the team during what has been a remarkable 2019 season, crowned by her first Grand Slam title at the French Open and followed that up with a title in Birmingham, which saw Barty become just the second Australian women in history to ascend to world No.1.
Unbeaten in Fed Cup play in 2019, Barty has won all four of her singles matches plus two decisive doubles rubbers, becoming the first player in history to win six straight World Group matches on the road to the final in the current Fed Cup format. Riding a 14-match winning streak across singles and doubles, she has not lost a Fed Cup match since February 2017, building an overall win-loss record of 17-2.
Tomljanovic will debut for Australia after a successful year which has seen her spend most of 2019 inside the top 50, and hit a career-high ranking of No.39 in April.
Five times this year she has advanced to the quarterfinal stage at WTA tournaments, going on to reach the final in Hua Hin in February and semifinals in Zhengzhou and Rabat.
Stosur’s experience will be a huge asset to the team, currently holding the record for the most Australian Fed Cup singles wins. She teamed with Barty to deliver Australia a thrilling 3-2 victory over Belarus in the Fed Cup semifinals in Brisbane, improving her flawless Fed Cup doubles record to 8-0. Currently ranked world No. 15 in doubles, Stosur has been a consistent doubles force throughout the year after claiming the Australian Open doubles title in January. Stosur recently reached her first WTA singles final in two years at Guangzhou, and will partner with Zhang Shuai for the year-end WTA Finals.
Perth-raised Sharma has been one of the breakout stars on the WTA Tour this year. Beginning her year strongly at the Australian Open, she qualified then reached the second round in singles before advancing to the mixed doubles final with John-Patrick Smith, she then notched her first tour-level final in Bogota in April.
Sharma hit a career high world No.85 in June and making her Grand Slam debuts at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, she is making her second appearance in Australia’s Fed Cup squad this year.
Hon, like Sharma, has enjoyed a season of improvement currently sitting at a career high world No.118. Five times she has qualified for WTA events in 2019, most recently in Seoul, where she won through to the quarterfinals. Hon’s biggest highlight this season was making her Fed Cup debut alongside Barty to win the live doubles rubber over the United States in Asheville in February, a result sending Australia into the World Group semifinals.
Australia holds a 5-1 record over France, although the French team won the most recent tie between the two nations in 2000. Australia owns seven Fed Cup titles to France’s two, yet France is appearing in its second final in four years.
The French team is expected to be revealed in the next few days and boasts a strong line-up of top players, including four top 100 players in Caroline Garcia, Kristina Mladenovic, Alize Cornet and Fiona Ferro. Pauline Parmentier has also been a regular member of the team throughout this year.
The tie will be broadcast live on Nine’s main channel from 11.00 am AWST on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 November. James Bracey will host with commentary from former Fed Cup representatives Casey Dellacqua and Jelena Dokic alongside Sam Groth and Todd Woodbridge.
Single and two-day ticket packages are on sale now via Ticketek at www.ticketek.com.au/fedcup.
Fed Cup Final fast facts:
· Perth has hosted four Fed Cup ties over the history of the competition, in 1970, 1995, 1998 and 2009
· Australia has played France six times in Fed Cup history
· Australia last played France in 2000, losing 2-1. Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik and coach Nicole Pratt were on the team with Jelena Dokic and Rennae Stubbs
· Australia leads France 5-1 in nation head-to-heads
· This will be Australia’s first Fed Cup final since 1993
· Australia last won the event, previously known as the Federation Cup, in Italy in 1974, with Evonne Goolagong, Dianne Fromholtz and Janet Young defeating the United States 2-1
· Australia is third on the all-time champions list, having won the title seven times in 1964, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974
· Australia and France are two of only four nations to have competed in every Fed Cup since its inception in 1963
· France won the Fed Cup in 1997 and 2003, and were runners up in 2004, 2005 and 2016.