Australia, France prepare for Fed Cup final

SHOWS: PERTH, AUSTRALIA (NOVEMBER 8, 2019) (ITF - ACCESS ALL)

1. TEAMS ON STAGE

2. DRAW IN PROGRESS

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3. PLAYERS CLAPPING

4. BALLET DANCERS PERFORMING DURING DRAW CEREMONY

5. BALLET DANCER HANDS BALL OVER DURING DRAW

6. DRAW LINE UP

7. SOUNDBITE (English) AUSTRALIA TENNIS PLAYER ASH BARTY SAYING:

"It is exciting, it is an exciting gateway to the weekend, certainly for us it has got that extra bit of tingle to it being at home and being on such a beautiful court. Especially for Ajla, I am so proud of her and so excited for her to be able to kick start our weekend and then I am looking forward to playing a good friend of mine in Cara."

8. SOUNDBITE (English) FRANCE TENNIS PLAYER KRISTINA MLADENOVIC SAYING:

"It is going to be a tough match. We know each other really well, there is no rankings on the paper when it comes to tennis, on a day everyone plays amazing tennis and is capable of beating each other. I think we have interesting records. During this time I played Ash just once this year and I beat her just before the French Open. It gives you the idea that everything is possible, but it is the same on the otherside, right? I am ready, I am aware that Ajla is going to go out there and smack every single ball as her game is very powerful,. I am looking forward to it I am ready and I am sure that it is going to be a great fight."

9. AUSTRALIA TEAM CAPTAIN ALICIA MOLIK AT PRACTICE

10. BARTY DURING PRACTICE

11. AJLA TOMLJANOVIC DURING PRACTICE

12. FRANCE TEAM CAPTAIN JULIEN BENNETEAU TALKING TO KRISTINA MLADENOVIC

13. VARIOUS KRISTINA MLADENOVIC AT PRACTICE

14. CAROLINE GARCIA PUTTING TAPE ON RACQUET

15. GARCIA TALKING TO BENNETEAU

16. GARCIA AT PRACTICE

17. VARIOUS OF THE TWO TEAMS AHEAD OF THE OPENING GALA DINNER

18. VARIOUS SCENIC SHOTS OF PERTH

STORY: Australia are throwing debutant Ajla Tomljanovic into the Fed Cup cauldron against France, dropping veteran Sam Stosur in favour of the Croatia-born debutant for the singles just weeks after she became eligible to represent the nation.

World number 51 Tomljanovic will play French number one Kristina Mladenovic in the first singles at Perth Arena on Saturday (Novermber 9), with Ash Barty to take on Caroline Garcia in the second.

World number one Barty will meet 40th-ranked Mladenovic in the opener of the reverse singles on Sunday, with Tomljanovic to play world number 45 Garcia.

Barty and Stosur are slated to play Mladenovic and Garcia in the doubles, though all of Sunday's matches may be changed.

Stosur, 35, holds Australia's Fed Cup record for most singles wins, with 29 from her 49 rubbers, but she lost both her singles matches in the semi-finals against Belarus.

In selecting the 26-year-old Tomljanovic, Australia captain Alicia Molik may also have been mindful of Stosur's record of stage-fright when playing in front of home crowds.

Despite winning the 2011 U.S. Open and making the French Open semi-finals four times, Stosur has long struggled to deal with the limelight in Australia.

She has never gone further than the fourth round at the Australian Open and has been knocked out of the first round at Melbourne Park for the last four tournaments in succession.

Australia are bidding for their eighth title and first since 1974, with France going for a third after last winning the team tournament in 2003.

(Production: Iain Axon)

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