11/05/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/05/2019 13:36
World No.1 Ashleigh Barty admitted she felt as fresh as could be expected after arriving in Perth on the back of her WTA Finals win in Shenzhen, but insisted the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas final was a long-term target in a season that began at the RAC Arena back in January.
Barty partnered Matt Ebden to represnt Australia in the 2019 Hopman Cup, the then-world No.19 beating Alize Cornet and Garbine Muguruza before Germany edged the hosts to reach the final. And while her start to the year may not have ended with silverware, the reigning Roland Garros champion hopes to sign off by lifting another trophy.
'It was the perfect way for me to start my 2019 season, playing Hopman Cup here in Perth, so to come here and end it, it feels like I've come full circle,' Barty said. 'To end the season here playing for your country feels special too.
'This is a week that I circled at the beginning of the year, one that we wanted to try to get to as a team and as a nation. It's so exciting to be able to finish the year playing for your country - it's pretty special, and without a doubt it's something I've been looking forward to for a long time. We're only a few days away.'
Asked how she was feeling with the end of a long campaign less than a week away, Barty said: 'I'm good, all good. There's certainly no issues - fresh as I can expect to be after the last week of the season, but definitely no issues.
'This was a week that I earmarked earlier in the year. Midway through the year I wanted to make sure that I was fit and healthy and doing everything possible to be right for this weekend. But we've got options aplenty in our team, and no matter who gets the rubbers on the board, it's about definitely trying to come in as a team and get the win.'
When asked who might be selected to play singles for the hosts following the addition of Ajla Tomljanovic to the Australian ranks, Samantha Stosur joked, 'I'm pretty certain Ash will play!
'I'll certainly be putting my hand up, and if Alicia wants me to play that'll be something really special to play at the weekend. If not, I'll be on the sidelines cheering Ajla or whoever gets picked. That's the beauty of having a team, and we've got five excellent players to pick from. No matter what, we're going to be in a good position to give it our best shot.'
Stosur, who claimed the Australian Open doubles title with Zhang Shuai in January and reached the doubles semis at the WTA Finals last week, said her first shot at a Fed Cup title had been 'a long time coming.
'I've played Fed Cup for, I think, 16 years now, and loved every time I've been out there to represent my country,' the 35-year-old said. 'We want to make the most of it, absolutely - it'll be right up there with the things you'll always look back on in your career. Since we won that tie in Brisbane it's been in the forefront of everyone's mind to target this week and be at your absolute best.'
Barty arrived in Perth on the same flight as French No.1 and WTA Finals doubles champion Kristina Mladenovic, and while the duo were happy to pose for group selfies with fans at the airport, the Australian No.1 expects her counterpart to be a vital component of the visitors' title tilt.
'I think both of us have played Kristina enough on the singles and the doubles court, and I think her name is going to feature prominently this weekend for the French team,' Barty said. 'Obviously she's had a fantastic week in Shenzhen, winning the doubles title there, but we know what to expect. For us it's about keeping it simple, creating a gameplan and executing it.'