Fed Cup: Kristina Mladenovic stuns world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty in a thriller



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Fed Cup: Kristina Mladenovic stuns world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty in a thriller

On Saturday, world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty and Kristina Mladenovic scored commanding victories over Caroline Garcia and Ajla Tomljanovic, setting a thrilling clash in the first rubber of Sunday's program, with Australia and France locked at 1-1 in the Fed Cup final.

After the third rubber, France now leads 2-1 thanks to a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 triumph of Mladenovic after two hours and 32 minutes, stunning world no. 1 and ending Barty's unbeaten Fed Cup streak of 15 victories! Back in May, Mladenovic toppled Barty in straight sets on clay in Rome and managed to repeat the same kind of vibe in front of the Australian fans in the RAC Arena in Perth, earning her 11th Fed Cup singles win fro 19 encounters and moving her country closer to the first Fed Cup crown since 2003.

Kristina claimed five points more than Ashleigh, losing serve four times and delivering three breaks from 13 opportunities in important moments to overcome a slow start and cross the finish line first in what was one of her most pivotal wins in the last couple of seasons.

Barty was unable to produce the same level she brought against Garcia, spraying too many unforced errors and losing ground when it mattered the most to suffer the first loss in the competition since 2017. Things looked perfect for the Aussie in the opener, serving well and earning an early break with a volley winner in game two.

A volley mistake cost Mladenovic the set when she suffered the second break in game eight, sending the opponent in front and having to work much harder in the rest of the encounter if she wanted to fight for the win. They stayed neck and neck in the first eight games of the second set before Ashleigh landed a forehand long to give serve away, spraying another error from that wing in game ten and allowing Mladenovic to grab the set 6-4 and stay in contention.

Pumped and motivated, Kristina secured another break in the third game of the decider when Barty placed a slice wide, with the Aussie breaking back at 2-3 thanks to a backhand mistake from the French player. Determined to fight until the last point, Mladenovic broke at love in the ninth game but couldn't serve out for the win after a break at love in game ten that kept Barty in the chase.

The Aussie fended off three break chances in the 11th game to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard, reaching a tie break where it was all about Mladenovic who claimed it 7-1 following a forehand error from Ashleigh to deliver a massive victory and put France 2-1 up.