For the third time in their history, France won the Fed Cup after a thrilling 3-2 victory over Australian in Perth. It is the first success for the French squad since 2003, earning it in the deciding doubles rubber where inspired Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia defeated Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur in straight sets, breaking hearts of the home fans who were waiting for the first title since 1974!
After sharing the opening two singles rubbers on Saturday, Kristina Mladenovic toppled Ashleigh Barty in the first match of today's program, sending France 2-1 in front before Ajla Tomljanovic and Pauline Parmentier stepped on the court, in what was a must-win clash for Ajla.
Winning just two games against Mladenovic yesterday, Tomljanovic raised her level to deliver a 6-4, 7-5 triumph in an hour and 32 minutes, earning her first Fed Cup win for Australia and leveling the score at 2-2. Ajla defended her serve nicely, suffering only one break and controlling the pace to seal the deal in straight sets and keep Australia alive ahead of the deciding doubles rubber.
Parmentier got broken in the tenth game of the first set to hand it to the opponent who opened a 4-2 advantage in set number two with a break at 15 in game six. Parmentier got the break back in the next game and wasting a break chance at 4-4 before Ajla broke her at 15 in the 12th game to secure the victory and celebrate one of her proudest moments in a career so far.
In the deciding rubber, Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur took upon Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia who didn't have to play that fourth singles rubber, gathering all the energy for the most important match of this year's Fed Cup.
The French girls had some ups and downs recently but they revived their old magic again, scoring a 6-4 6-3 triumph in 76 minutes to celebrate the first Fed Cup crown in 16 years! Mladenovic and Garcia got broken only once, outplaying the opponents and clinching three breaks that carried them home safely.
Barty and Stosur made a convincing start, breaking Garcia at 15 in the first game before Kristina and Caroline responded with a break at love in game four to level the score at 2-2. The French squad settled into an excellent rhythm and they broke Barty at 15 in game ten to grab the opener 6-4, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter.
Mladenovic landed a backhand winner to break Barty at 15 in the second game of the second set, with Garcia fending off three break chances on her own serve in the next game to push France 3-0 in front. Serving at 2-5, Barty and Stosur saved two match points to prolong the clash before Mladenovic and Garcia brought the victory home in game nine for a well-deserved title celebration.