Freakish 57-year history in Barty’s Cup charge
IN a year of stunning record toppling, Ash Barty might be saving her craziest feat for last.
The 23-year-old World No.1 will chase a record never seen in the 57-year history of the Federations Cup this weekend when she leads Australia's charge against France in Perth.
Fresh from her record pay cheque of $6.4 million after success in the year-ending WTA Tour Finals in China, Barty has already committed to playing all three rubbers this weekend when she tries to secure Australia's first Federations Cup triumph since 1974.
While personal records will mean little to the former cricket star, Barty stands to become the first player in the history of the Fed Cup to play and win every possible match in a victorious Fed Cup campaign.
In the current World Group, five-rubber tie format introduced in 1995, nobody has ever won every singles and doubles match played on the way to winning the title.
Barty, already a perfect 6-0 in Fed Cup this year, has won all four singles matches and both doubles matches this year - and has a winning streak of 14 matches in Fed Cup that stretches back to 2017 and Australia's World Group showdown with Ukraine.
While legends of the sport Evonne Goolagong and Martina Navratilova have longer winning streak records of 20-0 in Fed Cup, Barty will become the first player in the history of the competition to go a perfect 9-0 in one calendar year if she is able to win both her singles and the doubles against France this weekend.
Her perfect 6-0 Fed Cup record on the route to the final is already something never seen in the current Fed Cup format, with Australia only clinching victories against the USA and Belarus in the fifth and final rubbers.
A perfect weekend against France in Perth would write Barty's 2019 Fed Cup campaign into the record-books.
Despite her incredibly taxing schedule, Barty has already confirmed she intends to play both singles and the doubles.
Barty said earlier this week she has "unfinished business" in trying to break Australia's 45-year Fed Cup drought.
"To have a Fed Cup final at home is very rare and very precious and we can't wait to get stuck in," Barty said.
"After Wimbledon this year, I was chatting to my team and I said to them I wanted to target the last two weeks of the season and we've been able to do part of that here in Shenzhen and there's certainly some unfinished business.
"There's a massive week of tennis ahead. It's been a goal and a dream of mine to try and be in a Fed Cup final and to finish off the perfect year in the most perfect fashion playing for Australia in the green and gold is going to be remarkable."
Barty insists she still has enough in the tank for two singles matches and the doubles.
"I know that we'll do all the right things over the coming days to make sure that my body's ready, my mind's ready," she said.
"But it's certainly not going to be a hard thing to get ready for."
HOW TO WATCH ON TV
The final begins with the opening ceremony from 1.45pm (AEST) on Saturday, November 9 with the first singles rubber scheduled for 2pm (AEST). Channel 9's coverage begins from 1pm (AEST), which will be hosted by James Bracey live from Perth. Casey Dellacqua, Jelena Dokic, Sam Groth and Todd Woodbridge will also feature in commentary. Sunday's matches also begin from 1pm (AEST) on Nine.
WHERE IS IT BEING HELD
Perth's RAC Stadium will host all five matches. The venue has a capacity of 13,500.
WHAT IS THE WEEKEND FORMAT
Two singles matches will be played on Saturday, November 9, with the reverse singles and doubles on Sunday, November 10.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
Australia defeated USA in the quarter-finals 3-2. Barty and partner Priscilla Hon won the decisive finals doubles rubber 6-4 7-5 against America's Danielle Collins and Nicole Melichar.
Australia defeated Belarus in the semi-finals 3-2. Barty and Sam Stosur won the decisive, final doubles rubber 7-5 3-6 6-2 to put Australia in the final.
France defeated Belgium in the quarter-finals 3-1.
France defeated Romania in the semi-finals 3-2.
AUSTRALIAN FED CUP FINAL SQUAD
World No.1 Barty will headline an impressive squad featuring Australia's second highest ranked player, Ajla Tomljanovic. Grand Slam champion Sam Stosur, Astra Sharma and Priscilla Hon have also been selected in the squad.
FRANCE'S FED CUP FINAL SQUAD
Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia ware expected to be given the nod to play in the singles rubbers for France.
Alize Cornet, Fiona Ferro and Pauline Parmentier have also been selected.
FED CUP HISTORY
Australia has played France six times in the history of the Fed Cup, with a 5-1 record. However, Australia lost the most recent showdown in 2000 2-1 in a tie where Australian captain Alicia Molik and coach Nicole Pratt both featured on the team.
Australia have lost their past eight Fed Cup finals stretching back to the 1974 triumph.
Australia has qualified for the Fed Cup final 17 times - second only to the United States' 29 appearances. Australia has won seven Fed Cups, but hasn't tasted success since 1974 when Evonne Goolagong, Dianne Fromholtz and Janet Young defeated the United States 2-1 in Italy.
Australia who last reached the final 26 years ago in 1993.
France has been to the Fed Cup final five times previously with a 2-3 record. France won the Fed Cup in 1997 and 2003 and most recently made the final in 2016.
LIST OF RECENT FED CUP CHAMPIONS
2018 Czech Republic 3-0 defeated United States
2017 United States 3-2 defeated Belarus
2016 Czech Republic 3-2 defeated France
2015 Czech Republic 3-2 defeated Russia
2014 Czech Republic 3-1 defeated Germany
2013 Italy 4-0 defeated Russia
2012 Czech Republic 3-1 defeated Serbia
2011 Czech Republic 3-2 defeated Russia
2010 Italy 3-1 defeated United State