Australia captain Alicia Molik laments Fed Cup format change
PERTH, Australia (AP) — Australia captain Alicia Molik has lamented upcoming changes to the format of the Fed Cup as she vowed to complete a drought-breaking triumph on foreign soil after a heartbreaking loss to France at home on Sunday.
Hosts Australia fell in the decisive doubles match on Sunday to lose the tie 3-2 as their 45-year Fed Cup jinx continued. Australia fell short in front of a raucous crowd of 26,951 at Perth Arena over two days in the largest attendance for a Fed Cup final since 2005.
It was the last Fed Cup played in the home-and-away format. Starting next year, the women's tennis event will be a six-day tournament in April with 12 teams playing for an $18 million prize on clay courts in Budapest, Hungary.
The move follows in the footsteps of the revamped Davis Cup, which will showcase its first 18-team event later in Madrid starting on November 18.
Molik believed the home atmosphere was "really, really special". "It's a sad thing that the format is changing," she said. "Experiencing the final in your home country is the ultimate and unless the format changes we'll never have that again."
Molik, however, believed the clay court tournament could provide invaluable experience ahead of the French Open. "For the players they begin their preparation for the clay court events leading into the French Open, so I think it will be seamless for them," she said.
After Australia lost their ninth straight Fed Cup decider since its 1974 triumph, Molik said her team would be motivated by the agonizing defeat.
"We expect to be stronger, more resilient and more prepared," she said. "We expect to be in another Fed Cup final."