New tennis darling Ashleigh Barty believes a Queensland flavour will help Australia win their Fed Cup semifinal in a few weeks.
Australia will meet a strong Belarus side in Brisbane on April 20-21 and the Ipswich (Qld) talent Barty – now ranked No.9 in the world wants to go one better than the amazing quarterfinal victory over the USA in February.
Barty won all six sets she played in that 3-2 defeat of the US, and this time, on home soil she intends to continue that form, but with some help from fellow Queenslanders Kimberly Birrell and Priscilla Hon.
“For us it is an opportunity; you don’t get to play Fed Cup at home often,“ Barty said.
“Some of the girls are from Queensland in the team. It’s an opportunity to play in front of friends and family.”
Captain Alicia Molik moulds bring inVictorian Daria Gavrilova and/or Gold Coast resident and grand slam champion Samantha Stosur, who has overcome injury and is believed to be ready for the battle.
Australia will be chasing its first Fed Cup title since 1974 in what will be the side’s first semi-final appearance in five years.
Barty returned home this week from her recent Miami Open triumph to begin preparations for the tie.
“I’m excited to play there; I didn’t get to play at Brisbane International (in January),” she said.
“Whoever Mol picks, whoever she selects, I know she and I have full trust in.”
Meanwhile, Belarus have former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka, No.10 Aryna Sabalenka and No.35 Aliaksandra Sasnovich at their disposal.
Azarenka has found form again after an indifferent few seasons, and played a leading role in their 4-0 quarterfinal win over Germany.