World No.9 Ash Barty on the Gold Coast.
World No.9 Ash Barty on the Gold Coast.

‘Why not?’: Barty says Aussies can take Fed Cup

"WHY not,'' Ashleigh Barty said when asked about whether this was the year Australia would win a first Fed Cup title since 1974.

Barty takes an 11-match winning streak in Fed Cup singles and doubles into the semi-final against Belarus, which starts on Saturday in Brisbane.

Australian former top-10 player Alicia Molik, the team captain, was unable to complete a Fed Cup title charge in her career and teammate Sam Stosur is yet to play a final, despite having won more Fed Cup matches than any Australian.

"We have a good mix of youth and experience, so why not?, '' said Barty, at No.9 the highest-ranked woman in the semi-final.

"We have made semi-finals (most recently in 2014) and would love to take that extra step forward.

"Representing your country is one of the best things I can do as a sportsperson and you can get only two or three chances a year at best as a tennis player to do it. You have to make the most of your opportunities.

"I'm very fortunate to have a captain who knows what it is like, and it's amazing to have Sam back in the team.''

Ash Barty says representing her country “is one of the best things I can do as a sportsperson”.
Ash Barty says representing her country “is one of the best things I can do as a sportsperson”.

If Barty remains, as expected, a singles and doubles representative, any team wanting to beat Australia this year will have to inflict a match loss on her on Australian soil.

Australia will play either France or Romania at home in November's final if they eliminate Belarus.

National and personal perspectives resonate with the Queenslander for the tie at Pat Rafter Arena.

"I have so many friends and family coming. My niece Lucy and nephew Oscar have never been to a Fed Cup tie before,'' Barty said.

"My mum and dad get to come out and, for me, it's a really personal touch of having those I love there to support the Australian team.

"It's nice we have the three Queenslanders in the team, and Priscilla (Hon) and I train here when we are in Queensland. There's nothing better for me to play in front of a Queensland crowd with us this week.'

After Barty's Miami Open title win at the end of last month, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, a member of the last Australian team to win a Fed Cup final, sent a text message of congratulations to the 22-year-old she has mentored for many years.

Ash Barty back on home soil at Snapper Rocks after her win in Miami.
Ash Barty back on home soil at Snapper Rocks after her win in Miami.

"I heard from her and Roger (Cawley, her husband). They have been great supporters of mine, win or lose,'' Barty said.

"I haven't caught up with Evonne in person since the Australian Open. What she's been able to do … if I can emulate her in any shape or form, I'll have had a very successful career.''

Barty could play her occasional tour doubles partner Victoria Azarenka, an Australian Open winner, on Saturday because the competition format reserves a match for Sunday between Barty and world No.10 Aryna Sabalenka, the Belarus No.1.

"They have multiple options for singles and doubles,'' Barty said.

"I have no insider knowledge unfortunately. I haven't seen Vika yet.''

News Corp Australia


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