Fed Cup Final 2019, Australia vs France, Ash Barty, Ajla Tomljanovic, Sam Stosur

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Australia’s Fed Cup title bid has hit a major hurdle, with Ajla Tomljanovic outclassed by French opponent Kristina Mladenovic 6-1 6-1 in the opening finals rubber in Perth.

Representing Australia for the first time, Tomljanovic was no match for a red- hot Mladenovic who claimed victory Saturday in one hour and 11 minutes to claim a 1-0 lead for Francein the best-of-five format.

World No.1 Ashleigh Barty will look to revive Australia’s hopes when she faces Caroline Garcia in the second singles rubber.

BARTY TO COMBAT BRUTAL HEAT

France are confident they won’t wilt under the scorching Perth heat as they look to deny Australia a drought-breaking Fed Cup title.

The temperature is forecast to reach 40C on Saturday when Ajla Tomljanovic and French opponent Kristina Mladenovic get the final underway at RAC Arena. World No.1 Ashleigh Barty will take on Caroline Garcia in Saturday’s other match.

Australia will be hoping the hot weather plays in their favour as they look to claim their first Fed Cup title in 45 years.

But Garcia doesn’t believe the visitors will struggle under the conditions, saying she and Mladenovic have plenty of experience playing down under.

“We’ve played in Australia every year. I cannot say we are used to playing in 40 degrees but I think we all did once in our life,” Garcia said.

“Of course it’s a tough test but I think we are ready for it.

“I think if we cannot handle it in one weekend for Fed Cup final and to get our name on the trophy, that means we are not worth it. So I think we are all ready.”

Sunday’s reverse singles draw features Barty taking on Mladenovic and Fed Cup debutant Tomljanovic facing Garcia.

Should the scores be level in the best-of-five rubbers format, Barty will partner Samantha Stosur to face Mladenovic and Garciain a deciding doubles clash.

Unlike the Australian team, France boast Fed Cup finals experience. Mladenovic and Garcia both played in the 2016 decider in Strasbourg which France lost 3-2 to the Czech Republic.

“To be in the final again, we’ve already been there so we have nothing to lose,” former world No.4 Garcia said.

“I think it’s only a chance to improve and we have to go for it from the first match until the last one.

“The experience of 2016 was tough but it brings us more together for this weekend to try to get the trophy this time.”

FIXTURES/RESULTS

Saturday

Kristina Mladenovic defeated Ajla Tomljanovic: 6-1 6-1

Ash Barty vs Caroline Garcia

Sunday

Ash Barty vs Kristina Mladenovic

Ajla Tomljanovic vs Caroline Garcia

Ash Barty/Sam Stosur vs Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic

– with AAP



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