Barty: Australia can end 45-year Fed Cup title drought

Published by AAP

EXCITED: Ashleigh Barty speaks to media ahead of the Fed Cup semifinal between Australia and Belarus; Getty Images
World No.9 Ashleigh Barty believes Australia can win the Fed Cup competition this year.

Ashleigh Barty is daring to dream of Australia’s first Fed Cup title in 45 years as she attempts to match the feat of Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

World No.9 Barty will lead Australia’s charge in a semifinal against a strong Belarus outfit in Brisbane from Saturday.

Barty admitted it would be special to clinch Australia’s first title since 1974, a campaign powered by fellow Indigenous star and former world No.1 Goolagong Cawley.

“It’s pretty special for me personally, to know Evonne was in that last team that had won a Fed Cup,” she said.

“We’ve still got a long way to go, it’s been a bit of a work in progress.

“But I can guarantee that all four of us and the wider team are doing everything possible to give ourselves a chance.”

A winner of the WTA’s high-profile Miami Open last month, Barty will head a quartet that includes Samantha Stosur, Daria Gavrilova and Priscilla Hon.

“It’s (Fed Cup) the ultimate competition and it shows the depth (Australia possess),” Barty said.

“We’ve had some amazing results from all of our players; I think the depth, particularly in the females, is unreal.”

Barty has won her past 11 Fed Cup fixtures across singles and doubles and says she’s in career-best form.

“It (Miami) was one of the best weeks of my career; I struck the ball better than ever,” she said.

“But it’s different conditions, different ball, different country, different everything (in Brisbane).”

QUIZ: How well do you know Ash Barty?

Seven-time winners Australia hold home court advantage but won’t have it easy against the 2017 finalists, who boast two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and world No.10 Aryna Sabalenka.

“She’s a great chick,” Barty said of former world No.1 Azarenka, who is her current doubles partner.

“We’ll park the friendship if she’s on the other side of the net, but outside the court the relationship doesn’t change.”

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

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