'Ruthless and inspiring': Ash Barty dominates Fed Cup final


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

France's Caroline Garcia (R) talks with Kristina Mladenovic during the doubles match against Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur of Australia in the Fed Cup final tennis competition between Australia and France in Perth on November 10, 2019.

Kristina Mladenovic inspired France to a drought-breaking Fed Cup triumph after a nail-biting 3-2 win in the final against Australia on Sunday.

France hoists the Fed Cup trophy for the first time since 2003, when Amelie Mauresmo led the French to a 4-1 win over the United States in the final in Moscow.

Barty started where she left off against Garcia, firing back-to-back aces to take the first game then broke Mladenovic's serve on her way to claiming the first set in 33 minutes.

While Australia couldn't get the ideal start they hoped for with Tomljanovic falling in the opening match, Barty stood tall as she made easy work of Garcia, as she continues to nearly single handedly bring Australian women's tennis back from the brink. With just Sam Stosur's 2011 US Open title and Barty's breakout French Open title in June the only Grand Slam singles wins since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980, Australia's return to the Fed Cup world stage has seen fans flooding back.

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. 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 French stunned many when they played world no. 122 Parmentier ahead of world number 60 Alize Cornet and teammate Caroline Garcia, who both watched on from the sidelines.

The decision initially appeared a good one, as Tomljanovic was put under early pressure by Parmentier but eventually held her serve after saving two break points.

"She was the aggressor, took a few more chances and got the reward out there, " Barty said.

Australia's long-serving Stosur, surprisingly overlooked for the singles despite her outstanding Fed Cup record, came into the decider cold.

It was redemption for Mladenovic and Garcia who lost the decisive doubles match against the Czech Republic in the 2016 final.

Tomljanovic looked like a different player in the second set, putting her foot down with a number of power forehand winners, before breaking serve again to lead 4-2.

"Certainly from a complete point of view and having a complete game [it was the best]", Barty said following the match.

"I just kept believing because I felt I was out there fighting and giving her a hard battle".

But captain Alica Molik kept faith with her and she bounced back to beat Parmentier 6-4, 7-5.