Molik Forecasts Bright Future For Barty
Published April 25, 2013 04:24
Australia has a rich Fed Cup history. In fact, since the competition's launch in the early 1960s, only the United States have bettered their seven cup triumphs.
However, lately the former powerhouse has fallen on hard times; their last final appearance came back in 1993 and recent years have been spent flitting in and around the World Group.
It is all a far cry from the halcyon days of the 1960s and 1970s, when the Antipodeans were virtual ever-presents at the business end of the competition. According to current captain and former World No.8 Alicia Molik, though, their spell in the doldrums could soon be coming to an end.
Much of her optimism centers on the emergence of Ashleigh Barty.
Against Switzerland last weekend, Barty came of age, defeating recent Charleston semifinalist Stefanie Voegele to seal a 3-1 victory and a return to the World Group.
Thrown in at the deep end, Barty repaid Molik's trust with a mature performance that belied her tender years - she only turned 17 on Wednesday - and pointed towards a bright future.
"It's incredible," Molik said after the tie. "Hopefully she'll be part of the Fed Cup team for the next 10 to 15 years.
"She should look forward to the next Fed Cup tie too because after that performance she should expect to play."
Barty's only previous Fed Cup exposure came in the form of a dead doubles rubber during Australia's defeat to Czech Republic in February, and Molik was impressed with how her young charge dealt with the pressure of a live match.
"I think things change a little bit once you've played in a live rubber. I think it gives you a sense of belonging and if she didn't have it before, she's definitely got it now!'' Molik added.
Barty, who earmarked herself as one to watch when she won the Wimbledon junior title in 2011, was similarly upbeat after the match.
"It's unbelievable to win a Fed Cup tie. It's really something special," she said. "To win such an important tie was an amazing feeling.
"Stefanie has been having great success this year and I lost to her late last year. This gave me an added incentive to win and it was nice to get one back on her!"
"At our best, we can compete with the best couple of nations right at the top of Fed Cup,'' she said. "We've got a really cohesive team as well and that works in our favor."