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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, November 8, 2019

French Fed Cup

French No. 1 Kristina Mladenovic will meet 51st-ranked Ajla Tomljanovic to open a Fed Cup final featuring four current or former Grand Slam champions in Perth.

Photo credit: Fed Cup Facebook

The West Australian Ballet company performed during the Fed Cup final draw in Perth.

Grand Slam champions—and a finals debutant—aim to choreograph a championship climax on the hard-court stage of the RAC Arena this weekend.

Watch: Comeback Queen

French No. 1 Kristina Mladenovic will play Ajla Tomljanovic in the opener of the best-of-five match final this weekend.

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, who is undefeated in Fed Cup this year, takes on Caroline Garcia in Saturday's second singles. Barty has beaten Garcia in two of three career clashes.

Roland Garros champion Barty will play reigning Roland Garros doubles champion Mladenovic in Sunday's reverse singles followed by Garcia against Tomljanovic in the final reverse singles match. 

Barty, the 2018 US Open doubles champion, is scheduled to partner Stosur against 2016 French Open doubles champions Garcia and Mladenovic in the doubles match that concludes the final. 

French captain Julien Benneteau and Australian captain Alicia Molik can substitute in any of Sunday's matches.

It will be Tomljanovic's first Fed Cup singles appearance since 2011.

Captain Molik opted to start the 51st-ranked Tomljanovic over 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur for a few reasons.

The 26-year-old Tomljanovic, who ended the WTA season on a three-match losing streak, has swept all four sets she's played against Mladenovic while the 35-year-old Stosur has sometimes shown emotional scar tissue playing on home soil.

Though Stosur holds the Australian Fed Cup record for most wins, sporting a 29-20 record, she suffered singles defeats to Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka in Australia's 3-2 victory over Belarus in the April semifinals.

"It's exceptionally tough to decide your two singles players to go out on the first day," Molik said. "For us, it was a matter of match-ups with our opposition, Mladenovic and Garcia, and we're going in with our strongest two players. Of course, things can change for both teams on Sunday.

"I feel like it's the right decision, but it's never easy. Within this team, everyone has brought such a high level in practice. Sets have been very close, and that's really the way we want it. It should be a tough decision."

The 96th-ranked Stosur has won four of five meetings vs. Mladenovic, but has suffered four straight Australian Open first-round exits as she's somtimes struggled to play her most assertive tennis at home. 

Additionally, starting Tomljanovic in singles can save the 2010 Roland Garros runner-up's strength and stamina for a potential decisive doubles match.

Barty and Stosur partnered to beat Azarenka and Sabalenka 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 and clinch Australia's semifinal win over Belarus.

WTA Finals champion Barty, who boasts a 10-1 career Fed Cup singles record, is aiming to lead Australia to its first Fed Cup championship since 1974. WTA Finals doubles champion Mladenovic and Garcia are bidding to carry France to its third Fed Cup championship and first since 2003.


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