source : www.abc.net.au
Australian captain Alicia Molik is backing Daria Saville and Ajla Tomljanovic to get the job done after just three players remain for Australia’s opening match of the Billie Jean King Cup.
Most important points:
- Australia have just three players available for their first tie in the Billie Jean King Cup
- Alicia Molik said number one doubles Storm Hunter will have to make her own decision about playing Slovenia
- Hunter arrives in Spain from Mexico just 45 minutes before the match starts
A scheduling fiasco and the weather gods have forced Ellen Perez out of Tuesday night’s match with Slovenia, while newly crowned world number one Storm Hunter will only land in Seville 45 minutes before the match starts.
Perez resorted to asking for a lift on social media after losing the rain-delayed WTA Finals double decider in Cancun with her American partner Nicole Melichar-Martinez on Tuesday morning (AEDT).
“Everyone has a private jet and wants to fly me from Cancun to Seville tomorrow night to be in time for Tuesday’s 10am match at BJKC,” she wrote on X.
“Really not impressed with this planning disaster. Why should I be punished for this.”
Hunter left Mexico 12 hours earlier after falling in the semi-final but remains in extreme doubt, with Molik telling AAP the 29-year-old can make her own decision on whether to play or not.
“I hope she arrives feeling great, but maybe she will warm up and then I don’t know. It’s up to her whether she wants to play or not,” Molik said.
‘She has enough experience. I’m just conservative. If she isn’t feeling quite well, she has the right to say, “Save me until Thursday.”
“I mean, it’s an 18-hour door-to-door journey, so anyone could be forgiven for not wanting to play when he lands.”
Regardless, the skipper is confident that between Saville, Tomljanovic and Kim Birrell, Australia has the class to prevail in the best-of-three match.
Molik has so much confidence in the second-placed Australian team that reached the finals last year that she has categorically ruled out naming selection reserve Olivia Gadecki as a replacement.
Although she won’t formally announce her line-up until an hour before the match starts at 8pm (AEDT), Molik is leaning towards going with Saville and Tomljanovic when her singles picks are made.
“They are our two most experienced players,” she said.
And when Hunter is in shape to play, the captain lets the southpaw choose her own partner.
“She is number one in the world; she can choose who she wants to play with,” Molik said.
“I’m on the court with the two singles, so she has to decide that herself.
“Whatever happens, I think we have to beat Slovenia and at some point you have to trust your players to make the right choices.
“But at the moment we only have three players here.
“Since we arrived last Wednesday we have only had three players.
Molik’s dilemma is largely due to the fact that the WTA has scheduled the so-called “Women’s Tennis World Cup” in Spain just two days after the completion of the season-ending championships, held on another continent.
But in a perverse way, Molik says that having only three players instead of five “makes your job easier.”
“You don’t have to drop anyone,” she said.
Australia will play their second tie against Kazakhstan on Thursday, with only the four group winners advancing to the semi-finals.
Seven-time champions, but not since 1974, Australia have reached the semi-finals in the past three years, losing the 2022 title match to Switzerland.
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source : www.abc.net.au