Still seething from their hard-fought loss to Germany, Australia plan to take out their Fed Cup frustrations on the Netherlands in order to regain their place in the World Group.
The 4-1 loss to Germany in February included two epic three-set victories to Andrea Petkovic, and is ruefully described by Australian captain Alicia Molik as “the one which got away”.
Molik believes this weekend’s World Group playoff is a chance to prove that Australia deserve to not only be in the tournament’s elite tier, but at the very top of it.
“Absolutely we feel like we deserve to be in the World Group. That’s why we’re hungry to win this,” Molik told AAP.
“The feeling from Germany is still pretty fresh and pretty raw.
“We were only a couple of points away from winning that tie. We were good enough to be in the semi-final this year.
“That’s why our team wants another opportunity. We want another bite of the cherry.
“We’re not just deserving (of a World Group spot), we’re good enough to be in the final of the Fed Cup.”
That kind of attitude will add to a belief that Australia will be expected to not only beat the Dutch on Saturday and Sunday, but do so convincingly.
Australia owns an incredible record over the Dutch, having won eight of the nine Fed Cup ties between the two nations, the sole defeat coming in 1996.
“I’m glad we’re in that position and it would be nice to give them a bit of a reminder of that,” Molik said.
“I think we’re in a really strong position.”
Led by world No.26 Sam Stosur, Australia will field the same, strong lineup as against Germany, with world No.44 Casey Dellacqua, world No.48 Jarmila Gajdosova and rising star Olivia Rogowska called upon.
By contrast, the Netherlands top-ranked player, world No.86 Kiki Bertens, is the hosts’ only top-100 player.
“I think the danger is that athletes and tennis players can produce pretty special things when they represent their countries in Fed Cup and Davis Cup,” Molik cautioned.
“We need to be wary of that. They’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.
“Despite our team being strong and having better players, we can’t underestimate their abilities as well.”
A defeat would land Australia back in World Group II for the first time since 2012.
The opening singles matches start on Saturday (9.30pm AEST), with the draw to take place on Friday evening (AEST).