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Ashleigh Barty stars as Aussies clinch Fed Cup semi

Ashleigh Barty stars as Aussies clinch Fed Cup semi

Australia advanced to the Fed Cup final for the first time in more than a quarter century after Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur beat Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in a decisive doubles match Sunday.

Blown away by Azarenka earlier in the day - Stosur only held serve once all match - the veteran reset to improve her flawless Fed Cup doubles record to 8-0 thanks to some quick hands and assured court craft under huge pressure.

"I knew the first set would be key", Barty said after the opening day of singles.

"Obviously the singles didn't go the way I wanted it to, but to bounce back in 30 minutes and then come out and play as well as what we did, together and with the team supporting us, that was just an incredible feeling".

"They were really good today. for me personally I walked off with a smile because I'm very proud of my team".

"This is why we train, we want to get down to crunch time, go out and enjoy it", she said.

Barty was a class above all weekend and it wasn't missed by a gracious Belarus team who were led on Sunday by former world No.1 and two-time Australian Open victor Azarenka.

Barty lapped up the home-crowd pressure, celebrating the win by giving her mother an on-court birthday shout out.

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She raced out to a 40-0 lead in the next game and while Stosur saved her second match point, the Australian sent a backhand long on the next point that gave Belarus a 1-0 lead.

Australia will face France, who upset Romania with a 3-2 victory in Rouen. "She played so quick, I couldn't touch the ball on her returns".

Barty is 20-3 in singles in 2019 and won the two-week Miami tournament.

Australia captain Alicia Molik praised Stosur's performance but also hinted that she may change her lineup for the reverse singles on Sunday, depending on how the 35-year-old recovers.

Nonetheless, they sealed that game to win the last three in the first, and despite losing the last three of the second to be taken to a decider, and sealed the win with two more breaks in the final set.

Belarus has reached the semifinals for the last three years and lost the 2017 final 3-2 to the U.S.

Australian spearhead Barty showed all the traits that have propelled her into the world's top 10 this year to delight a capacity Pat Rafter Arena crowd that Stosur rated better than any home Fed Cup tie in her career.