Barty hands Gar­cia a dreaded ‘dou­ble bagel’ in Fed Cup fi­nal

The National - News - - SPORT -

World No 1 Ash­leigh Barty hauled Aus­tralia level in their Fed Cup fi­nal with France, dol­ing out the dreaded dou­ble-bagel to Caro­line Gar­cia.

Barty, fresh from win­ning the WTA Fi­nals in China, came on court in Perth un­der pres­sure after the ner­vous Ajla Toml­janovic was thrashed 6-1, 6-1 by Kristina Mlade­n­ovic in her tour­na­ment de­but.

With tem­per­a­tures soar­ing to 38° Cel­sius, Barty kept her cool to dish out a 6-0, 6-0 bat­ter­ing to Gar­cia in un­der an hour in front of 13,000 fans.

It left the Fed Cup World Group tie evenly poised at 1-1 ahead of today’s re­verse sin­gles and a dou­bles clash if needed, with Aus­tralia tar­get­ing an eighth ti­tle and first in 45 years, while France are seek­ing a third, their first since 2003.

“This is re­mark­able, I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter match,” Barty said. “I think that’s prob­a­bly the best tennis match I’ve ever played in my life. I’m so happy to be back here in Perth. I started my year off here and it’s a hell of a way to fin­ish it off.”

Barty is wrap­ping up a breathroug­h sea­son that saw her win her first Grand Slam at this sum­mer’s French Open as well as clinch the sea­son-end­ing WTA Fi­nals in China with a 6-4, 6-3 win over de­fend­ing cham­pion Elina Svi­tolina and with it a win­ner’s cheque of $4.42 mil­lion (Dh24m).

The Queens­land na­tive was im­pe­ri­ous against Gar­cia, fir­ing down pin­point first serves and ef­fort­lessly push­ing the French­woman around the court, forc­ing er­rors.

She set the tone by break­ing Gar­cia’s first ser­vice game and there was no way back for a player who was once ranked four in the world but has slipped to 45.

Barty wrapped up the first set in 29 min­utes and there was no let up as she sent down 11 fore­hand and four back­hand win­ners.

The ease of her win was a huge re­lief for Aus­tralian cap­tain Ali­cia Mo­lik, whose gam­ble to play Toml­janovic in sin­gles ahead of vet­eran Sa­man­tha Sto­sur back­fired spec­tac­u­larly.

Toml­janovic is sched­uled to play again today, but given her per­for­mance Mo­lik may re­vert to Sto­sur – Aus­tralia’s most suc­cess­ful sin­gles player.

France cap­tain Julien Ben­neteau faces a sim­i­lar dilemma with Gar­cia. His other op­tions are Al­ize Cor­net, Fiona Ferro or Pauline Par­men­tier.

Cur­rently, Barty and Sto­sur are slated to play Mlade­n­ovic and Gar­cia in what could be a dou­bles de­cider.

World No 40 Mlade­n­ovic gave her coun­try a 1-0 lead by de­stroy­ing Toml­janovic in 71 min­utes.

“I think she played good but I just came out there and ba­si­cally wanted to win,” said Mlade­n­ovic after clinch­ing her 22nd Fed Cup win. “I re­ally did al­most the per­fect match, I was re­ally in the zone. I love these sort of matches, the big­ger the pres­sure, the more spe­cial the event.”

Toml­janovic failed to hit a sin­gle win­ner in the open­ing set. She was bro­ken in the first game and Mlade­n­ovic quickly turned the screws, rac­ing to a 3-0 lead be­fore a dou­ble-fault on break-point in game four al­lowed Toml­janovic a rare glim­mer of hope.

But it didn’t last long with Mlade­n­ovic’s pow­er­ful fore­hand prov­ing too hot to han­dle.

She kept the mo­men­tum go­ing in the sec­ond set as Toml­janovic wilted un­der the pres­sure, gal­lop­ing to a 5-0 lead be­fore the Aus­tralian fi­nally won a game only for Mlade­n­ovic to com­fort­ably serve out the match.

Getty

Ash­leigh Barty on her way to a 6-0, 6-0 vic­tory over Caro­line Gar­cia in the Fed Cup fi­nal in Perth yes­ter­day

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