Kristina Mladenovic was the star of the French team as they claimed their first Fed Cup title for 16 years. Having overcome Australia’s world No 1, Ashleigh Barty, on her own home soil in Perth, Mladenovic returned to the court with Caroline Garcia to claim the deciding doubles rubber.
Ranked No 40, Mladenovic might have looked like a serious underdog against Barty on paper. But this is a dangerous player who reached the top 10 two years ago before hitting a turbulent patch. Now, at 26, she has pulled off the biggest result of her career. “It’s been a long journey – a dream of a kid,” Mladenovic said afterwards.
“I gave so much personally for this achievement in my career, something I wanted. It was on the bucket list.
“And to be in Australia, to face such a strong team with the world No 1 and to have this thriller match with her, 7-6 in the third … I still don’t really realise what happened. To lift that trophy, it’s an unforgettable moment.”
Australia’s last title came in 1974. But Barty and Sam Stosur were edged out 6-4, 6-3 in the doubles match that gave France their 3-2 overall victory.
Afterwards, Stosur – the 35-year-old former US Open singles champion – admitted that the result had been hard to take, but firmly quashed suggestions that she might be retiring. “I’m sticking around for a little while yet,” she said.