Ashleigh Barty celebrates in front of the adoring Brisbane crowd.
Ashleigh Barty celebrates in front of the adoring Brisbane crowd.

Stosur shocker leaves Aussies hanging

Sam Stosur had a chance to grab a moment of history in Brisbane, instead she faltered and was crushed in brutal fashion by fellow former grand slam winner Victoria Azarenka.

With a win Stosur could have put Australia into the Fed Cup final but Azarenka smashed her 6-1 6-1 to extend the Aussie's hometown singles losing streak to five matches.

It was a dominant performance from the Belarusian and the complete opposite from Stosur, who had no answers and committed several unforced errors in a sluggish performance.

The tie will now go to the doubles to decide who plays either France or Romania in the final, with Australia seeking their first trip to the decider since being humbled 3-0 by Spain in 1993.

It is likely Stosur will take the court with Ash Barty in the doubles after Barty had earlier put Australia on the brink of victory when she crushed world No. 10 Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-2.

The win gave Australia a 2-1 edge in the semi-final tie and put them on the verge of a chance at their first title in the event since 1974.

Barty proved too steady for the freewheeling Sabalenka, grinding away on her opponent's serve until it eventually proved too much for the Belarusian.

Sabalenka's serving woes of Saturday returned, with six double faults among 16 unforced errors in the first set compared to Barty's seven.

Conversely, Barty served well in the clutch moments, fending off the early pressure and sealing the first set with an ace.

It was more of the same in the second set as Barty produced in the big moments to save four break points across her first two service games.

Sabalenka was the first to crack when she handed the 22-year-old Barty a break with a loose forehand and double fault for a 3-2 lead.

Barty didn't need another invitation and she broke Sabalenka again before she served out the match.

Australia's No. 1 walked onto court with three-year-old niece Lucy in her arms to start the day and brought her into the post-match press conference.

With Lucy sitting next to her, Barty credited Stosur for exposing some cracks in Sabalenka's armour on Saturday.

"I was able to take advantage of it today, particularly on return games," Barty said.

"It was a wrestle, it was important to hang in there physically and continue to build pressure."

-With AAP

News Corp Australia


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