Alternative beckons for Barty-less Aussies

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Alicia Molik believes world No.1 Ash Barty’s retirement delivers an excellent alternative for Australia’s up-and-coming expertise to step up as they attempt to win the Billie Jean King Cup title.

Staff captain Molik and her Ajla Tomljanovic-led squad are in Glasgow, Scotland this week, getting ready to face Slovakia then Belgium in group matches for the suitable to advance to the semi-finals.

Australia made it to the final 4 within the 2021 Billie Jean King Cup and misplaced the ultimate to France in Perth three years in the past however has not received the competitors since 1974.

Barty’s resolution in March to finish her good profession – not even two months after ending the host nation’s Australian Open title drought – makes life harder, exacerbated by Daria Saville’s ACL setback in September.

Tomljanovic is Australia’s undoubted spearhead, at a career-high rating of No.33 and having reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open this yr.

Prime-20 gamers Storm Sanders and Ellen Perez, who received’t arrive in Glasgow till Sunday afternoon native time, are nearly sure to be Australia’s doubles mixture.

Australian nice Sam Stosur can also be within the squad, whereas top-10 junior Taylor Preston travelled to Glasgow as a hitting accomplice.

However Molik is but to announce who will play towards Slovakia, together with whether or not Priscilla Hon will get the prospect to compete within the No.2 singles.

“As celebrated as Ash was retiring; I feel it form of paves the way in which and offers a little bit of a gap to each different participant in Australia to step up and attempt to steal that No.1 place in Australia – and on the earth,” Molik mentioned.

“Ajla has carried out that this yr along with her career-high rating, being our No.1 Aussie proper now. I feel that’s essential, too, and notably for somebody like Pri, who’s grown up with Ash.

“Ash actually led by instance … however this can be a nice alternative for us. We’ve proven our greatest tennis is prime tennis – it’s tournament-winning, it’s match-winning.”

The conflict with Slovakia looms as a must-win for Australia on Tuesday evening at 9pm AEDT time, given Molik’s group will begin as favourites forward of a probable harder problem towards Belgium on Thursday.

Tomljanovic boasts a 3-0 head-to-head report towards Slovakia’s prime participant, 96th-ranked Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, together with two straight-sets victories this season.

Australia can even be strongly favoured in doubles play, however the No.2 singles, the place Viktoria Kuzmova is a possible starter for Slovakia, might be a tie-swinger.

“It’s thrilling … we’re trying ahead to that problem,” Molik mentioned.

“I feel that actually fits us, taking part in early within the day and on centre courtroom as properly … it’s very becoming for us, being just lately ranked the No.1 nation on this competitors, so I feel we’re deserving of that chance.

“They’re a troublesome group, there’s little question about it, however I feel that the (indoor hardcourt) floor right here actually fits our group.

“It may be a leveller at occasions, however I feel it’s bought simply sufficient tempo on it to actually go well with our gamers.”

Tomljanovic mentioned a title triumph this weekend would “trump a whole lot of issues I’ve carried out this yr”.

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