Fed Cup: Ashleigh Barty sends Australia into the first final since 1993!


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Fed Cup: Ashleigh Barty sends Australia into the first final since 1993!

Back in July 1993, the Australian Fed Cup squad had one of their best runs in the recent decades, beating the hosts Germany, Denmark, Finland and Argentina to reach the final before falling against mighty Spain for the third straight year.

That was the last chance for the Aussie to win the first Fed Cup crown since 1974 and that all changed in 2019 thanks to a brilliant Ashleigh Barty and the effort from the other girls in the team that have pushed Australia into the first final in 26 years.

Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane was the venue that hosted the semi-final clash between Australia and Belarus and it was one of the best ties in this competition in the last ten years or so, with Australia winning the deciding doubles rubber to prevail 3-2 and book the place in the final against Romania or France.

Leveled at 1-1 after Saturday's singles rubbers, Ashleigh Barty and Aryna Sabalenka kicked off the Sunday's action and the Aussie proved to be too strong in front of the home fans, beating the Belarusian 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 19 minutes to send Australia 2-1 in front.

Firing 12 aces, Barty fended off all five break points to mount the pressure on Aryna who couldn't endure it, hitting eight double faults and suffering four breaks from ten opportunities given to the Aussie. Trailing 2-1, Ashleigh claimed five straight games for a commanding lead, serving well in games six and eight and scoring two breaks that pushed her closer to the finish line.

Sabalenka had her chances earlier in the second set but it wasn't to be for her, wasting four break points and allowing Barty to rattle off five straight games just like in the opener and sail towards the finish line.

Victoria Azarenka had to beat Samantha Stosur to keep Belarus in contention and she delivered a fantastic performance to top the veteran 6-1, 6-1 in 59 minutes and level the overall score. A former Australian Open champion lost serve once but no one could even notice that after stellar numbers on the return, taking 30 out of 50 points behind Stosur's initial shot to grab six breaks from 11 opportunities for the 17th Fed Cup singles win in 22 matches.

It all came down to the doubles clash between the players who played all four singles encounters, with Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur toppling Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in an hour and 55 minutes to propel Australia into the title match.

The opening two sets were decided with a single break and the Aussies marched towards the finish line in the final set, dropping four points on serve and scoring two breaks to cross the finish line and start a huge celebration.