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Brilliant since the beginning of her young career in the Fed Cup, Ashleigh Barty has the opportunity to offer Australia its first crown in the competition for nearly half a century. A dream opportunity for the world number one against the Blue.
At the end of December 2018, Ashleigh Barty, then discreet 15e World Player, launched her season in Perth, Australia. Winner of a Grand Slam tournament (Roland-Garros) in June and number one worldwide since, she dreams of offering Australia its first Fed Cup for nearly half a century, Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 November, in the final against France.
"The Fed Cup has its place in my program, before any other tournament," said Barty in an interview with the International Tennis Federation (ITF), "I told Alicia (Molik, captain of the Australian team) that the Fed Cup was for me a priority. "
The smallest player in the top 10 (1.66m), "Ash" Barty (23) has however acquired a new stature in less than a year. Before 2019, the native of Ipswich, near Brisbane in eastern Australia, the opposite of Perth, had not invited in the second week in Grand Slam. This season, she is the only player to have reached the round of 16, at least, in the four most prestigious tournaments of the calendar. Better, she offered her first major trophy at Roland-Garros.
Having become world number one in the weeks that followed, she is the first Australian woman to finish the year on the throne of world tennis.
Unbeatable or almost in Fed Cup
Barty is also the player who has stacked the most wins this season (56), as well as the most successful against players in the top 10 (12). She was finally titled on all surfaces: on hard, in Miami, on clay, in Paris, on grass, in Birmingham and in the Masters room which brings together the eight best players of the year, there are less than a week in Shenzhen (China).
"It's been an amazing year, really, it feels like every time I've achieved one of my goals, we've set new goals and achieved them too," she was delighted at the beginning of the week, having just landed a Masters she brilliantly won.
Her climb is even more dizzying, if we remember that she did not make her return to the WTA circuit until June 2016, after having abandoned tennis for almost two years and having tried cricket, the one season with Brisbane's professional team.
Barty is not outdone in the Fed Cup: she has a series of fourteen victories and has brought three points (2 singles and 1 doubles) to her team in each of the first two rounds of the 2019 campaign, in the United States. United States and Belarus. In total, out of nineteen matches played since 2013, she won seventeen (1 loss in singles in 2017 and 1 in doubles in 2013).
A major objective
The week of the final "is a week that I checked at the beginning of the year, it was a goal for our team and our nation," she repeated Tuesday.
"At mid-season again, it really remained and I wanted to make sure I was in good shape and did everything I could to be good for this weekend, something that I had been waiting for a long time," he said. Barty who has aboriginal origins by his father and will wear earrings representing the flag, offered by Perth schoolchildren, for the final.
"Playing the Hopman Cup in Perth has been a perfect way to start my 2019 season and to be able to finish it by playing for my country, at the same place, it's closing the loop," concluded the Australian.
At the end of a trying season, especially emotionally, does she risk paying her debauchery on the ultimate obstacle?
"There will be such an adrenaline rush that she will not feel tired, maybe she will feel it after the competition, but not during," former French champion Marion Bartoli told AFP.
Once the Fed Cup closed, Barty will be able to turn to another of his goals with the green and gold jersey: the Olympics 2020, in less than nine months in Tokyo.
(tagsToTranslate) Sports (t) Tennis (t) Fed Cup (t) Australia (t) Blue