MELBOURNE • France emerged teary-eyed and triumphant from a weekend of grit and inspiration to claim their first Fed Cup title in 16 years with a 3-2 win over hosts Australia yesterday.
Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia combined for the decisive point, grinding down Ashleigh Barty and Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-3 in the doubles to seal France's third title in the team event and leave a crowd of 13,842 at Perth Arena deflated.
Edged out 3-2 on home soil by the Czech Republic in the 2016 decider, Mladenovic and Garcia were determined to avoid a repeat of that heartbreak, and they played fearlessly on the blue hardcourt.
"It's lots of emotions to share this with Caroline after three years ago (when) we failed on the last step of the tie," Mladenovic said.
She was key to France's triumph, unbeaten in her three rubbers and having come back from a set down to stun world No. 1 Barty in the reverse singles earlier.
Paired with the French No. 1, Garcia put her 6-0, 6-0 humiliation by Barty on Saturday behind her and proved a menace for Australia throughout the doubles decider.
Garcia said: "We played a great match and it was very tense. Of course it's a lot of stress but I think we managed it very well."
She and Mladenovic rallied from an early break down in the first set and saved a slew of break points in the second as the desperate Australians battled to stave off defeat.
Australia saved two championship points at 5-2 in the second set but Mladenovic capped her superb weekend by serving out the match.