Kristina Mladenovic inspires France to Fed Cup win over Australia in Perth
France win third Fed Cup, their first since 2003, as Australia's 45-year wait for another title remains
Last Updated: 10/11/19 1:19pm
Kristina Mladenovic inspired France to a drought-breaking Fed Cup triumph after a nail-biting 3-2 victory in the final against Australia.
Mladenovic combined with Caroline Garcia to beat Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur 6-4 6-3 in the decisive doubles match at Perth Arena.
She produced a herculean effort on the outdoor hard court after earlier on Sunday upsetting the top-ranked Barty in a three-set thriller to move France into a 2-1 lead.
French Open winner Barty's remarkable season ended in heartbreak just one week after her historic US $4.42m (£3.4m) triumph at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
Mladenovic and Garcia broke three times to power France to their third Fed Cup title and first since 2003.
It was redemption for Mladenovic and Garcia who lost the decisive doubles match against Czech Republic in the 2016 final.
"It's a lot of emotion to share this with [Garcia] after we failed on the last step three years ago," Mladenovic said. "We just wanted to take this little revenge for ourselves."
Australia captain Alicia Molik hoped her team could rebound after losing their ninth straight decider stretching back to their last triumph in 1974.
"We will use this moment for fuel to drive us into the future," she said.
Earlier, Ajla Tomljanovic rebounded from a dispiriting performance in her Australian Fed Cup debut on Saturday against Mladenovic and recorded a 6-4 7-5 victory over Pauline Parmentier in one hour and 33 minutes.
"I'm really glad I got a second chance and that I got a win," Tomljanovic said.
France captain Julien Benneteau chose veteran Parmentier over Garcia, who failed to win a game against Barty on Saturday, to try and clinch the tie for the visitors.
The Australian struggled to consistently land her first serve but Parmentier could not make her pay and it was an increasingly confident Tomljanovic who grabbed the decisive break in the 10th game to take the first set.
The 26-year-old held her nerve in the second set and gained the decisive break in the 12th game to ensure Australia's bid to end a 45-year drought remained momentarily alive.
In Sunday's opening singles, Mladenovic stunned Barty with a nerve-wrenching 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) victory.
Mladenovic, ranked 40 in the world, started slowly before taking advantage of an error-strewn Barty, whose 15-match Fed Cup winning streak was ended in a topsy-turvey match lasting two hours and 31 minutes.
Mladenovic failed to close out the encounter on serve in the 10th game of the decider before dominating Barty in the tie-break to produce arguably the best victory of her career.
"It's absolutely epic. This one is special because it's playing in the final for the country in front of an amazing, packed crowd," said an emotional Mladenovic after the match.
In April, a revamped Fed Cup will comprise 12 teams playing over six days for an $18m (£14m) prize on clay courts in Budapest, Hungary.