France on brink of Fed Cup victory after Mladenovic stuns Barty

France's Kristina Mladenovic plays a shot against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic during their Fed Cup tennis final in Perth Australia Saturday Nov. 9

Ajla Tomljanovic, who was crushed 6-1, 6-1 by Mladenovic in the first singles rubber, will play the experienced Pauline Parmentier later.

But despite the urgings of the home crowd Barty and Sam Stosur fell short as Mladenovic and Garcia prevailed 6-4 6-3 to hand France a famous victory.

Australia's bid to end a 45-year sporting drought has ended in heartbreak, with France winning the Fed Cup final 3-2 in Perth.

Mladenovic's 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 upset now means France hold a 2-1 lead in the final.

Just two years ago it was Barty who saved Australia from plummeting into the Fed Cup Asia/Pacific Group I, while in 2019 she remains unbeaten at 7-0 in Fed Cup rubbers and is on track to become the only player to win every match on her way to the Fed Cup title.

Barty started where she left off against Garcia on Saturday, firing back-to-back aces to take the first game then broke Mladenovic's serve on her way to claiming the first set in 33 minutes.

Mladenovic failed to close out the match on serve in the 10th game of the deciding set before dominating world No.1 Barty in the tiebreak to produce arguably the best victory of her career.

World number one Barty, stunned by Mladenovic in a singles rubber earlier Sunday, did her best to keep Australia in the hunt, but the French pair were clinical, racing to victory as their team-mates went wild. Barty moved through a handful of routine holds before grasping a break point at 4-3, but the World No.1 squandered that chance with a forehand error, and Mladenovic eventually held on for 4-4.

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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. The French squad settled into an excellent rhythm and they broke Barty at 15 in game ten to grab the opener 6-4, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter. "I nearly played a ideal match".

Tomljanovic was surprisingly chosen over former US Open champion Samantha Stosur as Australia's second singles player behind world No.1 Ashleigh Barty.

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

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.

Barty took advantage, pushing her opponent round the court to get to three break points.

Representing Australia for the first time, Tomljanovic was overcome by nerves and was no match for a red-hot Mladenovic.

"But I think for all of us, just in a Fed Cup specific point of view, the journey that we've been on is simply remarkable, in the last two years, it really has".

Parmentier did likewise, and games went on serve until the 10th game of the match.

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