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US Fed Cup city may become Ash Barty-ville

After enjoying raucous home crowds at the Australian Open, Ash Barty and her Fed Cup squad will face a hostile pro-American arena.

US Fed Cup city may become Ash Barty-ville

After enjoying raucous home crowds at the Australian Open, Ash Barty and her Fed Cup squad will face a hostile pro-American arena.

ASHLEIGH BARTY of Australia returns a shot to Claire Liu during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida.
ASHLEIGH BARTY of Australia returns a shot to Claire Liu during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida. Picture:Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Americans may have created a bad omen when they selected Asheville, North Carolina as the venue to take on Australia in this weekend's world group first round Fed Cup tie.

Australia's tennis darling, Ash Barty, turned Melbourne into "Ashville" during last month's run to the Australian Open quarter-finals and if her form continues, she will fittingly be queen of the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains city.


Barty laughed when Australian team captain Alicia Molik sent her a text last year to say the tie was in Asheville.

"It was a funny coincidence," Barty told AAP on Thursday.

Barty is highest-ranked of both teams heading into the tie, is expected to play singles and doubles and is enjoying the leadership role in a young squad that previously belonged to Samantha Stosur and Casey Dellacqua.

"I'm loving it and embracing it," Barty, ranked thirteenth in the world in singles and sixth in doubles, said.

"In my opinion it's best to lead by example and I'm trying to do that in Fed Cup."

The Americans are without Serena and Venus Williams but feature an in-form squad of world number 17 Madison Keys, Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins, Hobart International champion Sofia Kenin and doubles specialist Nicole Melichar.

The Australians, including Kim Birrell and Astra Sharma, are also on a high after success at the Australian Open.

But in Asheville they will be walking into a lion's den-like US Cellular Center indoor arena filled with rowdy Americans.

"Obviously it's an extra challenge," Barty said.

"When you play at home in Australia the crowd is exceptional and I think we are expecting a full house here in Asheville and they will be cheering for the Americans but even without the crowd it's special to be playing with Australia written on your back."

Molik and US team captain Kathy Rinaldi will announce their singles and doubles players on Friday (Saturday AEDT).

The first two singles rubbers are scheduled for Saturday (Sunday 5am AEDT).

AAP


AAP




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