Fabulous France fell Australia for Fed Cup title

Ross Houston
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.

Barty's 15-match Fed Cup winning streak came crashing to a halt as Mladenovic mounted a lion-hearted comeback to prevail in two hours and 31 minutes and put France up 2-1 in the best-of-five rubbers final.

Mladenovic landed a backhand victor to break Barty at 15 in the second game of the second set, with Garcia fending off three break chances on her own serve in the next game to push France 3-0 in front.

Mladenovic and Garcia, who won the 2016 French Open doubles title, bounced back from going an early break down in the first set to expose Stosur's weaknesses, with the veteran out-of-sorts and making too many mistakes.

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. Parmentier replaces former world No.4 Caroline Garcia who failed to win a game against the French Open champion Barty. 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.

Mladenovic failed to close out the match on serve in the 10th game of the deciding set before dominating Barty in the tiebreak to produce arguably the best victory of her career.

The advantage swung to the Frenchwoman minutes later, as Mladenovic forced an error from Barty to grab the break for a 5-4 lead. Serving at 2-5, Barty and Stosur saved two match points to prolong the clash before Mladenovic and Garcia brought the victory home in game nine for a well-deserved title celebration. 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. "I nearly played a ideal match. I fought with everything I had left", said Barty.

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.

Should the scores be level after the reverse singles, Barty will partner Samantha Stosur to face Mladenovic and Garcia in a deciding doubles rubber.

The final marked the last Fed Cup played under the current format, with an overhaul next year seeing 12 nations compete in a six-day event in Budapest.

Parmentier did likewise, and games went on serve until the 10th game of the match.

French Open victor Barty's remarkable season ended in heartbreak just one week after her historic United States $4.42 million triumph at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

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

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