Mladenovic Upsets Barty To Give France 2-1 Fed Cup Final Lead

Tennis News

Kristina Mladenovic stunned world number one Ashleigh Barty in three sets to give France a 2-1 lead over Australia in the Fed Cup final on Sunday

Written By Press Trust Of India | Mumbai | Updated On:
Mladenovic

Kristina Mladenovic stunned world number one Ashleigh Barty in three sets to give France a 2-1 lead over Australia in the Fed Cup final on Sunday and inch them closer to a first title since 2003. Barty has been in scintillating form, thrashing Caroline Garcia 6-0, 6-0 on Saturday after winning the WTA Finals in China last weekend. But after Barty comfortably took the first set, 40th-ranked Mladenovic found her touch to claw back the second set and topple the Australian 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) at a packed Perth Arena.

"It's hard to speak," said an emotional Mladenovic afterwards as the tears flowed.  "We (the team) kept on fighting for every point and that's the way I like to play my tennis." 

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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. If Australia win that one, the final will go to a deciding doubles in which Barty and Samantha Stosur are scheduled to play Mladenovic and Garcia. Australia are targeting an eighth title and first in 45 years, while France are seeking a third and their first since 2003.

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Barty continued when she left off after the "double bagel" of Garcia on Saturday and broke Mladenovic's first service game with a net volley to extend her streak to  15 games this weekend. Mladenovic held serve to end the Barty run and it became a closer affair before the Australian began forcing errors to break again and take the first set. Barty's never-say-die attitude was on show in the opening game of the second set when she saved five breakpoints.

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But it was Mladenovic who worked the first crucial break with some top-quality passing shots, with a forehand long from Barty giving her a 5-4 lead. She held her nerve to serve out the set in 53 titanic minutes. Mladenovic, who beat Barty on clay in Rome earlier this year, was on a roll with the French star breaking then holding for a 3-1 third-set lead. Stung, Barty rallied to break back for 3-3 but the errors again crept in and she was broken again. Mladenovic lost her nerve serving for the match and the see-sawing set ultimately went to a tie break with Mladenovic coming out on top. 

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