PERTH (AFP) – A jubilant Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia led France to their first Fed Cup title since 2003 on Sunday (November 10), winning a crucial double rubber to shatter Australian dreams 3-2.
In the last tournament played in the current format, the pair kept their focus on Perth Arena to overcome Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-3, denying the home team their first crown in 45 years.
It was France's third title, and only since they defeated the United States 16 years ago did it raise more misery over seven-time champions Australia, who have now lost all nine of the last Fed Cup finals they have appeared in.
Mladenovic and Garcia, who won the 2016 Open Open doubles title, bounced back from going into an early crash in the first set to reveal Stosur's weaknesses, with the veteran outs black and making too many mistakes.
World No. 1 Barty, stunned by Mladenovic in a singles rubber earlier on Sunday, did his best to keep Australia in the hunt, but the French pair were clinical and struggled to victory as their teammates went wild.
An ecstatic France captain Julien Benneteau said in court: "I am the proudest man on the planet right now, I am so proud of my girls and my team. They deserve it because they fought for a long time for this title.
"Certainly I want a lot of beer now."
The finale marked the last Fed Cup played in the current format, with a revision next year with 12 nations competing in a six-day event in Budapest.
That will put an end to the homecoming and the atmosphere they bring, with 26,951 fans, who over two days in Perth is the second highest attendance of the Fed Cup, a record after Roland Garros (30,000) in 2005.
The double clash was set up by Ajla Tomljanovic, who withdrew the home team in the battle by beating France's Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 7-5.
She came onto the field after the 40th-ranked Mladenovic upset Barty 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) in an epic.
The Croat-born Tomljanovic, in his Fed Cup debut for Australia, had been beaten 6-1, 6-1 by Mladenovic in the singles rubber opener on Saturday.
But Captain Alica Molik held her faith and she bounced back to beat Parmentier 6-4, 7-5.