Despite parading a long list of world class talent France has declared itself the underdog for this weekend’s Fed Cup final against Australia in Perth.
French captain Julien Benneteau said today he didn’t know if his team had any advantage as Australia geared up for a tilt at the title – a crown they have not won since 1974.
“I don’t know if we have advantage — when you play a Fed Cup final with the No.1 in the world in the other side, and away, you cannot say that you have an advantage,” he said.
“But for sure, me, I have a lot of options for singles and doubles. During the first two rounds we proved that we have won the ties with two, three different players who played in singles.
“For us it’s an advantage because you never know what can happen on Saturday in the first two singles. It can be very hard physically and mentally, and then the Sunday it’s a huge day with two singles and one doubles, so a lot of options for sure.
“It’s kind of headache for me during the week, but the weekend, it’s a privilege.”
France possesses a powerful squad – four of the five are currently ranked in the singles top 70 – Benneteau leads a team comprising Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia, Alize Cornet, Pauline Parmentier and Fiona Ferro – the same quintet which beat Belgium and Romania en route to the final.
But Benneteau said he was wary of an Australian team spearheaded by world No.1 Ash Barty and two Grand Slam singles and doubles champions in Barty and Sam Stosur.
Mladenovic will spearhead the French assault after winning the Shenzen doubles with Timea Babos, beating Aussie Sam Stosur in the semifinals.
“I played against Sam in doubles so it could give a little bit of a preview in case the doubles happens here. Obviously we all know Ash really good.
“I had time to scout her matches, that’s for sure. Ready to go and looking forward to the tie this year,” she said.
And Alize Cornet, who has played Hopman Cup at the impressive indoor arena, knows what to expect.
“I can’t wait for the stadium to be packed, as it used to be in Hopman Cup,” she said.
“I’ve heard that it’s going to be packed for this weekend, so I guess the atmosphere is going to be amazing.”
Barty enjoyed her first hit-out with the Australian squad today, combining with Stosur for a doubles workout against teammates Priscilla Hon and Astra Sharma.
“We can’t wait of the weekend,” said Molik.
“It’s starting to warm up and that’s pretty natural for summer in Australia – I think it will really suit us.”