France claim Fed Cup after decisive doubles win by Garcia and Mladenovic

France claim Fed Cup after decisive doubles win by Garcia and Mladenovic

The 26-year-old held her nerve and gained the decisive break in the 12th game to ensure Australia's bid to end a 45-year drought remained alive.

Tomljanovic appeared headed for victory when she broke in the sixth game of the second set, but she was unable to consolidate.

Mladenovic held serve to complete the win, securing France's third Fed Cup title, and the country's first since 2003.

World No.40 Mladenovic dominated Tomljanovic on the hard outdoor court to record a 6-1, 6-1 victory in 72 minutes as France took a 1-0 lead at Perth Arena.

Ajla Tomljanovic, who was crushed 6-1, 6-1 by Mladenovic in the first singles rubber, will play the experienced Pauline Parmentier later.

In the deciding rubber, Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur took upon Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia who didn't have to play that fourth singles rubber, gathering all the energy for the most important match of this year's Fed Cup.

They should get it if Barty meets the impressive Mladenovic, as per the draw.

She was broken in the first game and Mladenovic quickly turned the screws, racing to a 3-0 lead before a double-fault on break-point in game four allowed Tomljanovic a rare glimmer of hope.

At this juncture, Barty's forehand miscues were increasing in frequency, while Mladenovic was finding ideal backhand passes, leading to the Frenchwoman's first break of service to lead 5-4.

Mladenovic then quietened the crowd, holding serve to level the match at one set apiece.

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Mladenovic broke her early in a barrage of power hitting and wrapped up the first set in 38 minutes with a fierce forehand return, delighting a rowdy pocket of blue-clad French fans.

Stung, Barty rallied to break back for 3-3 but the errors again crept in and she was broken again. She needed one, levelling at 5-5.

While Australia couldn't get the ideal start they hoped for with Tomljanovic falling in the opening match, Barty stood tall as she made easy work of Garcia, as she continues to nearly single handedly bring Australian women's tennis back from the brink.

The set went to a tie-break.

In the breaker, Mladenovic fired the pivotal shot early, knocking off a brilliant forehand pass to lead 3-1.

The Frenchwoman then hooked a forehand victor to break for 3-1, and a Barty error made things harder for Australia, as the French fans chanted "Kiki!".

She came on court after 40th-ranked Mladenovic upset Barty 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) in an epic. "I love these sort of matches, the bigger the pressure, the more special the event".

Tomljanovic had admitted to feeling nerves against Mladenovic in her Fed Cup debut for Australia. And I know she's excited about tomorrow if she gets the nod.

Parmentier did likewise, and games went on serve until the 10th game of the match.

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