Fed Cup 2019: Ash Barty, Australia left devastated by France
A devastated Ash Barty will use the coming weeks to recover and reflect on a massive year that culminated in a heartbreaking Fed Cup final defeat.
Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia were too good for Barty and Samantha Stosur in Sunday’s doubles decider, cruising to a 6-4 6-3 victory to secure France a third Fed Cup crown.
French No. 1 Mladenovic — ranked 40th in the world — earlier stunned Barty 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in an epic two-and-a-half hour singles battle.
Barty was visibly distraught in the aftermath of Australia’s ninth straight Fed Cup final loss, the most recent of which had come in 1993.
But the Queenslander put on a brave face when she later fronted the media, saying she would take the time to appreciate a huge 2019 in which she won a maiden grand slam title at Roland-Garros and scaled the summit of women’s tennis.
“It’s going to be obviously a tough one,” Barty said. “This is something that all of us have been looking forward to for six months and I think now it’s about resting, recovery and reflecting on the year that’s been.
“For me, but I think for all of us in a Fed Cup-specific point of view, the journey that we’ve been on is just simply remarkable in the last two years.
“Even though it’s bloody tough now, in a couple of days’ time I think we’ll be all right.”
It was a tough pill to swallow for Barty’s doubles partner Stosur, having come closer than ever before in her 16-year Fed Cup career to the ultimate prize.
The 35-year-old was overlooked for the singles rubbers in Perth but insisted she had no plans to step aside from Fed Cup tennis.
“I’m sticking around for a little while yet,” Stosur said.
“This is obviously a very hard moment but this is a fantastic team to be a part of and all of these four girls are the future of Fed Cup.
“I won’t be around for 16 more years but these girls may well be so we’ve got the future in good hands.”
The 26-year-old was overcome by nerves in a 6-1 6-1 loss to a rampant Mladenovic in the opening singles rubber.
But after being backed by team captain Alicia Molik to turn things around, Tomljanovic repaid the faith with an impressive 6-4 7-5 win over Pauline Parmentier in Sunday’s reverse singles to even the ledger at 2-2 in the best-of-five rubbers final.
“Honestly, I have never felt so sick after a match like I did yesterday,” Tomljanovic said.
“It was such a different feeling compared to some other matches I’ve lost in my career.
“But there’s not a lot of time that you can dwell and this team is so unbelievable with the atmosphere and the energy … they’re so chilled but at the same time competitive, and that is maybe a bit like my personality. They really pulled me through after that loss.”
Tomljanovic said she had felt surprisingly calm on Sunday after some motivating words from her teammates.
Yet to win a WTA title, the world No. 51 believes her Fed Cup turnaround can inspire her to greater things on the women’s tour.
“I really thought this week could be a turning point in my career, just to realise what I’m capable of in moments,” she said.
“This was a situation this week that I’ve never felt before – the pressure, how much I wanted it, which is weird because tennis is an individual sport.
“But I think this team has brought that to me, just how they’ve accepted me and treated me so I felt that love from them that I just wanted to give back. I really think I can use this to my advantage for my tennis.”
Originally published as ‘Barty looks destroyed’ after Fed Cup fail