Australia captain Alicia Molik admitted that the team "immensely" missed world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty at the Billie Jean King Cup. Barty, who is set to end the year ranked at No. 1 for the third consecutive season, decided to skip the Billie Jean King Cup Finals and take a rest following an exhausting 2021 season.
Australia did well even without Barty in the lineup, having made the semifinals at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals. "Between us as a team, we hadn't had many ties and I'd be lying if I said we didn't miss Ash immensely," admitted Molik, per Yahoo Sport Australia.
"But I think at the same time, having a young team means that everyone has to be responsible and step up and that teaches you a lot of lessons. "For the younger players to have that sense of responsibility to their team and their country and meet that need to really step up was important.
"My team through the week has put in an incredible performance all week. I'm incredibly proud."
Barty preparing for the Australian Open
Barty last played at the US Open, where she suffered a shock third round loss to Shelby Rogers.
Late last month, Barty announced she would not be defending her title at the WTA Finals. "I wanted to let everyone know that I won't be competing in any further tournaments in 2021, including the WTA Finals in Mexico," Barty said in a statement.
"It was a difficult decision but I need to prioritise my body and my recovery from our 2021 season and focus on having the strongest pre-season for the Australian summer. With ongoing challenges of travelling back to Queensland and quarantine requirements, I am not willing to compromise my preparation for January. "I wish the WTA team and the players all the best for a successful WTA Finals and the rest of the year."