Australia v France: Line-up set for Fed Cup final

Published by AAP / Tennismash

The Australian and French Fed Cup teams at the draw ceremony for the 2019 final in Perth. (Getty Images)
Ajla Tomljanovic will open this weekend’s Fed Cup final against Kristina Mladenovic before world No.1 Ash Barty takes on Caroline Garcia.

Ajla Tomljanovic has been picked ahead of veteran Samantha Stosur as Australia’s second singles player for the Fed Cup final against France in Perth.

Fed Cup debutant Tomljanovic will back up world No.1 Ashleigh Barty in the singles component of Australia’s final against the French team this weekend.

Barty and Stosur will contest the doubles at RAC Arena, with the host nation aiming to claim its first Fed Cup title in 45 years.

Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia will contest both the singles and doubles for France in the best-of-five rubbers format.

Tomljanovic will open proceedings on Saturday against French No.1 Mladenovic in a high-pressure outing just weeks after becoming eligible to represent Australia.

While Tomljanovic is Australia’s second-highest ranked female player behind Barty, her selection is still something of a leap of faith given the highly-experienced Stosur boasts the most singles wins for Australia in Fed Cup history.

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“Actually I was hoping to be first up. I think it’s good to get it underway right away — I think it’s going to add to the moment and be extra special. I’m definitely really excited,” said Tomljanovic, who has won both previous meetings with Mladenovic but has not faced the Frenchwoman since 2014.

“I think there will be no secrets tomorrow, we know each other’s games really well. I think she’s had a pretty strong end to the season so I’m definitely expecting her to bring her best, and so will I.”

Spearheaded by French Open champion Barty, Australia will start warm favourites to claim a drought-breaking victory.

But Mladenovic and Garcia are formidable opponents, meaning there is every chance the contest will go down to a doubles showdown on Sunday.

Mladenovic had a close look at Barty during last week’s season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China, where the top seed took out the singles title and the Frenchwoman partnered with Hungary’s Timea Babos to win the doubles.

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