Fed Cup: France beat Australia in Perth to end 16-year wait

France's Kristina Mladenovic plays a shot against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic during their Fed Cup tennis final in Perth Australia Saturday Nov. 9

The doubles clash was set up by Ajla Tomljanovic hauling the home team back into the tie by beating France's Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 7-5.

Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic were 6-4, 6-3 winners against Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur to give France their third title in the women's team event.

Tomljanovic's maiden victory in the competition kept Australia's hopes of its first Fed Cup triumph in 45 years alive, after Mladenovic had upset World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty earlier in a three-set thriller to move France into a 2-1 lead.

On day one of competition, France had taken the early advantage when Mladenovic dismantled Tomlanovic 6-1, 6-1, but Barty produced an nearly ideal performance to deny Caroline Garcia a single game, winning 6-0, 6-0 to level the tie.

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.

But the French No. 1 fought her way back into the contest and took advantage of a series of unforced errors by Barty to force a deciding set.

But world No.40 Mladenovic again proved too good, storming back from being a set down to consolidate her defeat of Barty on clay in Rome six months ago.

The Aussie world number one was forced to save five break points to start the second set as things looked as if they were getting worse for Mladenovic when she appeared to roll her ankle late in the second set.

As the day began, Barty picked up right where she left off on Saturday, firing a forehand to set up a volley victor to claim an early break lead at 2-0.

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The Australian then had three break point opportunities in the sixth game - she missed the first two before a Mladenovic error made it 3-3 as the crowd erupted.

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.

"She was the aggressor, took a few more chances and got the reward out there, " Barty said.

It was redemption for Mladenovic and Garcia who lost the decisive doubles match against the Czech Republic in the 2016 final. "That's the way I like to play my tennis".

Mladenovic took the early mini-break, but Barty answered immediately for 1-1.

Australia's long-serving Stosur, surprisingly overlooked for the singles despite her outstanding Fed Cup record, came into the decider cold.

There was drama ahead of the fourth rubber, as Australia opted to keep Tomljanovic in place for the reverse singles despite her nervous performance on Saturday.

"Certainly from a complete point of view and having a complete game [it was the best]", Barty said following the match.

The tension rose as Parmentier raised the pressure on the Australian, but Tomljanovic held for 6-5, and then with the crowd roaring her home, she set up two match points.

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