Alicia Molik says it’s up to Ashleigh Barty to decide how far she can scale the tennis heights before Australia host November’s Fed Cup final.
The world No.9 won all three matches in Australia’s 3-2 semi-final victory over Belarus in Brisbane.
It extended her Fed Cup winning streak in singles and doubles to 14 and she became the first woman to win all six matches across two ties on the way to a decider.
The final – to be played against France – will be Australia’s first in 26 years, as they chase their first Fed Cup crown since Evonne Goolagong Cawley led Australia to the title in 1974.
Barty beat world No.10 Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday after Saturday’s tough 7-6, 6-3 defeat of former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.
She paired with Samantha Stosur in the doubles decider and was rock solid under high pressure at a packed Pat Rafter Arena as Australia prevailed 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.
Barty will begin her clay season on May 4 in Madrid ahead of the French Open, before hitting her favoured European grasscourts and returning home for the Fed Cup final, which Melbourne is in the box seat to host.
“It’s up to Ash really, I think,” Australian captain Molik said of Barty’s potential as the player cupped her ears in jest.
“What I’ve loved watching from Ash is her level of maturity on court and ability to deal with adversity on court, the setbacks.
“It’s been a massive shift, the way she deals with coming back … she loves the pressure.”
Azarenka, Barty’s doubles partner, admitted the 22-year-old was on another level all weekend.
“She’s played at an incredible, consistent high level and taking it to an even higher level every time you tried to get there,” she said.
“She’s done an incredible job, playing at home; feels comfortable, feel like she’s going to continue to go this way.
“Her game’s very interesting; she’s got a lot of variation … I can’t wait to play against her down the line over the tour.”