Australia and US prepare for Cup decider

The USA and Australia are locked at 1-1 in their Fed Cup clash in North Carolina as both nations prepare for their final day of competition today (Sunday).

Photo: Anne Parker International Sports Fotos

And Australia are quietly confident they can steal the match with Ash Barty ready for ‘the’ clash of the tier against American Madison Keys.

“No pressure at all,” Barty said after winning Saturday’s opening singles rubber 6-1 7-6 (7-2) against US No.2  Sofia Kenin.

“For me it is an opportunity to go out there and play for my country and enjoy the fact I have the privilege of putting on the green and gold and wearing Australia on my back.”

The moos will be the same for Barty as she prepares for the Keys clash.

“That’s what you want on day two – the number ones going at it,” Australian team captain Alicia Molik said.

“It’s going to be really interesting.”

Barty, ranked at No. 13 in the world, will play two of the three remaining rubbers, including the singles clash with Keys who levelled the tie with a convincing 6-2 6-2 win over Queensland’s Kimberly Birrell at the Asheville US Cellular Center.

Birrell, ranked 157, will play 37th ranked Kenin in the second singles game.

Karolina Pliskova. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

Then Barty and Daria Gavrilova will face American duo Nicole Melichar and Danielle Collins in what could be the deciding doubles rubber in the five-match format.

Meanwhile, France and Belarus were in command of their Fed Cup first-round ties over the weekend and The Czech Republic were all square against Romania.

Australian Open semifinalist Karolina Pliskova won the first point for the Czechs against Romania after easing past Mihaela Burzanescu 6-1, 6-4 in Ostrava.

But Simona Halep won the second singles 6-4, 6-0 over Katerina Siniakova.

Pliskova and Halep, both former world No. 1s, were scheduled to meet in the key first reverse singles today.

Caroline Garcia. Photo: Karl Winter International Sports Photos

In Liege, Caroline Garcia returned to the Fed Cup for the first time since the 2016 final to overcome Alison Van Uytvanck 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-2 and give France the first point against Belgium.

Alize Cornet made it 2-0 after defeating Elise Mertens 7-6 (6), 6-2.

against Germany in Braunschweig after Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat Tatjana Maria 7-6 (3), 6-3, and Aryna Sabalenka dispatched Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-1. Belrarus is one win away from avenging the loss to Germany 3-2 last year in Minsk.