Alicia Molik is confident Ashleigh Barty will bring her usual “wow” factor when the French Open champion headlines Australia’s Fed Cup title charge in November’s final against France.
Perth’s RAC Arena has been announced as the venue for the November 9-10 tie, with Barty the star attraction of an Australian squad also featuring 2011 US Open winner Sam Stosur and Daria Gavrilova.
Barty announced herself as a tennis heavyweight after winning the recent French Open, with the triumph bumping her up to second in the world rankings.
The 23-year-old has starred for Australia in Fed Cup action throughout her career, winning 10 of her 11 singles matches, and seven of her eight doubles encounters.
The pressure will be on Barty to produce the goods yet again when Australia fronts up against a France outfit that could feature world No.23 Caroline Garcia, Pauline Parmentier, Kristina Mladenovic and Alize Conet.
Australia’s most recent Fed Cup title was way back in 1974.
Molik doesn’t think Barty will be carrying any extra pressure than usual just because of her grand slam success.
“Because the reality is that in the last couple of years, we’ve needed Ash to win a lot for us to be in this position. That doesn’t change,” Molik said.
“She’s shown over the last number of years how good she is coping with pressure, with stress levels. It’s business as usual for her.”
Molik praised Barty’s determination and willingness to work hard.
The Fed Cup captain predicts Barty will get even better over the coming years, and says Perth tennis fans have a special chance to see one of the world’s best players.
“Ash is always a player that has a wow factor,” Molik said.
“For me sitting on the sides at the Fed Cup or watching on TV, every match I watch her there’s always a wow moment.
“Over the last 18 months she’s been at the high level pretty much every day of the week. I think that’s a taste of what’s to come.”
The recent demise of the mixed-teams Hopman Cup in favour of the men’s $20 million ATP World Cup event meant Perth was in danger of missing out on elite women’s tennis later this year.
The Fed Cup final has filled the gap, with Perth beating out bids from Brisbane and Melbourne.
And the Western Australia Government has also vowed to try to lure the women’s WTA World Cup tennis event to Perth if it gets off the ground in the coming years.