Ash Barty in action for Australia in their Fed Cup tie against the United States. Photo: Getty.
Ash Barty in action for Australia in their Fed Cup tie against the United States. Photo: Getty.

Barty leads Australia to thrilling Fed Cup win

Ashleigh Barty has led the way and debutante Priscilla Hon was her reliable sidekick as Australia knocked the United States out of the Fed Cup to set up a world group semi-final clash with Belarus.

The US had the home crowd in Asheville, at North Carolina's US Cellular Center indoor arena on Sunday, but Australia possessed world No.13 Barty who was invincible.

Barty demolished Sofia Kenin in the first singles rubber on Saturday and followed up with 6-4 6-1 victory a day later against America's world No.17 Madison Keys.

She then headed into the doubles decider alongside 20-year-old Hon with the world group tie locked 2-2.

Barty and Hon comprehensively beat experienced American duo Nicole Melichar and Danielle Collins 6-4 7-5 to book the Belarus match-up.

"We've had a hell of a weekend and there's absolutely nothing better than coming out and playing a live tie for your country," Barty said.

"For Pri to play the way she played today, I'm just so proud of her."

Hon has a singles ranking of 143, is 125th in doubles and had never played competitively partnered with Barty, but she showed no nerves against the Americans.

"This is my dream come true," Hon said.

"I've always wanted to play for Australia and beside Ash.

"I've always looked up to her my whole life."

Hon was not originally selected to play doubles but team captain Alicia Molik shook up the line-up for the crucial second day.

 

Barty hugs doubles partner Hon after their win.
Barty hugs doubles partner Hon after their win.

 

Kimberly Birrell, who was outclassed by Keys in Saturday's singles rubber, was benched by Molik on Sunday for out-of-form Daria Gavrilova.

It was a risk, with Gavrilova winless in 2019.

The world No.47 put up a fight but fell to Collins 6-1 3-6 6-2 to square the tie for the US and set up the doubles decider.

Gavrilova was pencilled in for doubles.

Molik instead slotted Hon alongside Barty and they played like a veteran doubles team.

Australia will play Belarus in April, with the location decided by a coin toss as the nations are yet to play each other in the Fed Cup.

It is the first time since 2014 Australia have made the semi-finals.

The other semi-final will is between France and Romania.
 

News Corp Australia


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