Fed Cup 2018: Australia confident despite Samantha Stosur's absence

By @saihoops on
Ashleigh Barty, Ash Barty
Sep 1, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ashleigh Barty of Australia serves against Sloane Stephens of the United States (not pictured) on day five of the U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. USA TODAY Sports / Geoff Burke

Team Australia enters this weekend's 2018 Fed Cup tie against Ukraine without veteran Samantha Stosur. However, Aussie World No. 1 Ash Barty believes her country has the tools to win its first-round match in women's tennis' premier international team competition. 

Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion, battled a career-threatening hand injury last season and missed two of the four grand slams. After slipping to No. 44 in the WTA rankings, she suffered a first-round exit at the 2018 Australian Open and most recently fell to Japan's Nao Hibino at the Taiwan Open. Stosur, who holds the record for most singles wins for Australia in the Fed Cup, is still dealing with the hand injury and will reportedly sit out of competitive tennis for the foreseeable future. 

Ash Barty is ready to take on the mantle of Australia's leader, a year after the loss to Ukraine. “I think the team we have got is very strong. Destanee (Aiava) has had an amazing Australian summer and whether it is Sam (Stosur), Dash (Daria Gavrilova), myself, Case (Dellacqua), it doesn’t matter who’s in the team," Barty said on Tuesday ahead of the clash against Ukraine in Canberra on Feb. 10 and 11, via The Daily Telegraph.

“We’ve got a really good foundation and team around us and we know that anyone on any given day can get the job done," added Barty, who along with Daria Gavrilova will kick-start the singles action on Saturday. 

Fed Cup 2018: Australia vs Ukraine gets underway Saturday

Meanwhile, Ukraine will be without World No. 3 Elina Svitolina, who reportedly made herself unavailable. Svitolina hasn't played since her quarter-final loss to Belgium's Elise Mertens in the quarter-finals of the 2018 Australian Open. Barty acknowledged that Svitolina would be a big loss for Team Ukraine.

“I think any time you can test yourself against one of the world’s best players (Svitolina) it’s what you want, but at the same time we’re happy to play against whoever and we’ve got an opportunity here this weekend to do well and get back in contention for the world group,” Barty told reporters on Tuesday. Stay tuned for the latest news and updates on the 2018 Fed Cup.