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Fed Cup Final: Kristina Mladenovic puts France 1-0 ahead against Australia

10 November 2019

World number one Ashleigh Barty faces Caroline Garcia in Saturday's second singles rubber to try to draw the match level.

A jubilant Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia led France to its first Fed Cup title since 2003 on Sunday, winning a deciding doubles rubber to crush Australian dreams 3-2.

France claimed their first Fed Cup title in 16 years on Sunday in a doubles decider against Australia in Perth. 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.

World number one Barty will return on Sunday for the reverse singles and also the doubles, if required, as Australia bid for their first Fed Cup title in 45 years.

That will mean an end to home ties and the atmosphere they bring, with the 26,951 fans turning up over two days in Perth the second-highest Fed Cup attendance on record after Roland Garros (30,000) in 2005.

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Ajla Tomljanovic, who was crushed 6-1, 6-1 by Mladenovic in the first singles rubber, will play the experienced Pauline Parmentier later.

"Ashleigh, she's world No.1 and such a thriller 7-6 in the third after such a long battle and a fight", Mladenovic said.

On a day of scorching heat, France struck the early blow when Kristina Mladenovic thrashed Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-1 but the terrier-like Barty wrested back the momentum with her 6-0 6-0 humiliation of Garcia.

But captain Alica Molik kept faith with her and she bounced back to beat Parmentier 6-4, 7-5. However, Barty found aggressive shotmaking when needed, to hold o for 3-2, then come out on top of extended rallies to break back for 3-3. "The team has been unbelievable all week and it is such a privilege to play for you guys".

"I couldn't have asked for a more ideal match", said Barty, who won the WTA Finals event last week. "I love fighting and I'm so proud to give this first point to my team, to my country". "I was really in the zone".

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Mladenovic and Garcia didn't let up, claiming an early break in the second set to keep Australia on the back foot.

Australia were wobbling after Tomljanovic's torrid Fed Cup debut against Mladenovic, but a beaming Barty strode onto court cradling her niece in her arms and soaking up a huge ovation from the packed crowd.

Barty wrapped up the first set in 29 minutes and there was no let up as she sent down 11 forehand and four backhand winners. Barty moved through a handful of routine holds before grasping a break point at 4-3, but the World No.1 squandered that chance with a forehand error, and Mladenovic eventually held on for 4-4.

The Australian then had three break point opportunities in the sixth game - she missed the first two before a Mladenovic error made it 3-3 as the crowd erupted.

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Fed Cup Final: Kristina Mladenovic puts France 1-0 ahead against Australia