History because it was the last time that this final was held in such a format, before a reform as deep as it was decried. The quintet led by former player Julien Benneteau allows France to glean its third women's team competition after a rebound weekend marked by the formidable level of play of the French Kristina Mladenovic.
It is the 26-year-old who gave some hopes to the Blues by toppling the world number Ashleigh Barty in the third match. It is also she who carried the double decisive alongside Caroline Garcia (6-4, 6-3) allowing France to wake up with a smile.
The title of reunion
This is the third time in history that the French triumph in the Fed Cup, after 1997 and 2003. They remained on three defeats in the final, in 2004, 2005 and 2016. This victory, from the first campaign Julien Benneteau in the role of captain, comes to complete the season reunion between Garcia and her teammates. "I am the most proud man on the planet," said the young captain, just after the victorious match.
Before arriving at the captaincy, Caroline Garcia had not set foot in the French team since the defeat in the final in 2016 (3-2 against the Czech Republic). Had followed a quarrel with his teammates, especially Mladenovic and Alize Cornet, after the best French then decided to give priority to his career.
She had an ironic triple "LOL" on social media when she dropped out for a back injury before the play-off against Spain in spring 2017.
"It's very emotional to share this with Caroline," said Kristina Mladenovic. To permanently seal their reconciliation, the two players were lying side by side on the court after the match ball.
But Caroline Garcia has done a lot for the Blues in the two previous rounds this season – two points in singles in Belgium in the first round, two points, one in singles and doubles in semifinal against Simona Halep's Romania – that's Kristina Mladenovic who wore the Bleues throughout the weekend of the final.
The feat of "Kiki"
In the wake of her speedy victory against Australian No.2 Ajla Tomljanovic (6-1, 6-1), "Kiki" has signed one of the most resounding feats of her career by toppling the world No.1 on her homeland Sunday morning , after more than 2h30 min of combat, in a rebounding match. "It's one of the strongest moments of my career," says Mladenovic.
Irresistible the day before against Garcia, stifled (6-0, 6-0) in 56 minutes, Barty is perfectly entered in the game, with four aces in his first two games of service and an entry break, to lead 3- 0. So that at that moment, she had not lost any game of the final.
But Mladenovic did not give up and, after sidelining a 5-3 ball in the second set, equalized a round everywhere.
In a high-voltage end of the match, "Kiki" served for the win of the match after a white break, at 5-4. But she knew the same fate at the worst moment. In the decisive game, however, she left no chance to the world No.1, which has scored more than one point and ended up paying 47 faults.
Pauline Parmentier (122), preferred to Garcia for the fourth singles, she never really endangered Tomljanovic, victorious (6-4, 7-5), which allowed Australia to stay alive in this meet.
But as in the semifinal, the association Mladenovic-Garcia doubles has found the resources to conquer the point of victory in the Fed Cup, whose formula will change from next season.
A scenario at the end of the world that recalls the triumph of their male counterparts in the Davis Cup in 2001. In Melbourne, in the Rod Laver Arena, the Blues had also overcome Australia and a world No.1, in this case Lleyton Hewitt, on the same score, three wins to two.
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