Mladenovic upsets Barty to give France Fed Cup final lead

Tanya Simon
November 10, 2019

Earlier, No. 51-ranked Ajla Tomljanovic rebounded from a dispiriting performance in her Australian Fed Cup debut on Saturday against Mladenovic to record a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Pauline Parmentier in one hour and 33 minutes.

It is the first success for the French squad since 2003, earning it in the deciding doubles rubber where inspired Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia defeated Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur in straight sets, breaking hearts of the home fans who were waiting for the first title since 1974!

Kristina Mladenovic powered France to a flawless start in the Fed Cup final on Saturday with a straight-sets defeat of Australian debutant Ajla Tomljanovic.

When the 26-year-old finally broke in the 10th game to claim the first set, she had to do it the hard way, with a first serve percentage of 31 and five winners in 41 minutes. Another forehand error from Barty came on Mladenovic's first set point, and the French No.1 had leveled the match at one set apiece with clutch play at the back end of the second set.

But it counted for little in a match where the Australian held serve just once - in the second last game - and managed only two winners for the match compared to her opponent's 16.

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.

Stung, Barty rallied for 3-3 but the errors again crept in and the set ultimately went to a tense tie breaker where Mladenovic triumphed.

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. "That's the way I like to play my tennis".

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In Sunday's opening singles, Mladenovic stunned Barty with a nerve-wrenching 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1) victory.

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.

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

"She was the aggressor, took a few more chances and got the reward out there, " Barty said.

Fresh from partnering Hungary's Timea Babos to take out the doubles title at last week's season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China, Mladenovic is set to pose a stern test for Barty.

Australian Fed Cup debutant Ajla Tomljanovic went from under fire to on fire as she kept her country alive in the final with a straight-sets win at RAC Arena today.

"Certainly from a complete point of view and having a complete game [it was the best]", Barty said following the match.

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

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