Australia’s ever-dependable Ash Barty doled out the dreaded double-bagel to Caroline Garcia to level the Fed Cup final against France at 1-1 after the opening day’s singles at Perth Arena on Saturday.On a day of scorching heat, France struck the early blow when Kristina Mladenovic thrashed Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-1 but the terrier-like Barty wrested back the momentum with her 6-0 6-0 humiliation of Garcia.World number one Barty will return on Sunday for the reverse singles and also the doubles, if required, as Australia bid for their first Fed Cup title in 45 years.”I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect match. That’s probably the best tennis match I’ve ever played in my life,” a thrilled Barty said courtside.”What a place to do it, this is incredible.”Australia were wobbling after Tomljanovic’s torrid Fed Cup debut match against Mladenovic, but a beaming Barty strode onto court cradling her niece in her arms and soaking up a huge ovation from the packed crowd.That was the last display of tenderness the French Open champion would produce until consoling Garcia with a hug at the net after scarcely 56 minutes of play.The crowd may hope for a tighter contest on Sunday and should get it if the confident Mladenovic meets Barty in the singles.The French number one came out swinging against rookie Tomljanovic, who was thrown into the cauldron by team captain Alicia Molik.With Fed Cup veteran Sam Stosur overlooked for the singles, Molik’s gamble backfired as Croatia-born Tomljanovic, who only became eligible to represent Australia a month ago, promptly crumbled under pressure.advertisementMladenovic broke her early in a barrage of power hitting and wrapped up the first set in 38 minutes with a fierce forehand return, delighting a rowdy pocket of blue-clad French fans.Tomljanovic’s serve further disintegrated in the second set as Mladenovic roared to a 5-1 lead before sealing the match when Tomljanovic slapped a return well beyond the baseline.Also Read | Next Gen ATP Finals: Alex De Minaur defeats Tiafoe to book place in final
Arsenal’s Leonie Maier is excited to play in the ‘amazing’ FA Women’s Super League after securing a ‘dream’ move this summer.The 26-year-old joined the Gunners at the end of May after a frustrating campaign with Bayern Munich, in which she made just 12 starts in the league.But the defender holds no remorse towards a club where she spent six years, winning two league titles, and is looking forward to the next chapter of her career. Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream “It’s a great honour for me to be here,” Maier told Goal.“I’m very proud to be part of the Arsenal family. I’m very happy to be here.“I played six years for Bayern and it was time to start something new,” the Germany international, who has 71 caps and won Euro 2013 for her country, explained.“[Last season] was really difficult for me because I didn’t know the situation.“I had a little injury during the winter break, so I missed three games and it was hard to come back to the starting XI because we had a strong squad in Munich.“We played very well and we had no reason to change anything.“It was a hard time for me but I also learned in this time.“It has always been a dream playing abroad and I think the Women’s Super League has developed in an amazing way for the last few years.“Joe [Montemurro, manager] also convinced me with his idea of playing football.“That is the reason I came to Arsenal. I also would like to win more trophies, with Arsenal hopefully.”That winning mentality should help Maier settle in with her new team-mates, who are targeting further success this season after winning the league last year, securing a return to the UEFA Women’s Champions League.Many of those team-mates are already familiar faces to her too, which has also helped in what is her first move away from Germany.As well as Maier, both Manuela Zinsberger and Jill Roord moved from Munich to the red side of north London this summer, so she is not alone in making the necessary adjustments.“I think that is the reason it was easy for me to fit in very quickly,” she said.“[Zinsberger and Roord] are very good players and will bring a lot with their quality and experience.“Also, the attitude we learned in Germany, it’s a very strong and tough attitude and a lot of pushing. Hopefully we can help Arsenal here with our experience.“I also knew my old team-mates, Vikki [Schnaderbeck], Lisa [Evans], Viv [Miedema]. I knew a lot of players here.“There were other clubs [interested], but I had a very good feeling here with Arsenal, especially with Joe and the whole club.“Here we have professional facilities and I think we can continue to improve ourselves every day. I really like it here.”England has made a very strong first impression on Maier, with her particularly impressed with the country’s investment and attitude towards women’s football.So much so, that she has called on Germany to follow the lead of their European rivals.“I think it’s a good sign for women’s football that big clubs are having women’s teams,” she said.“I think Germany has to do this also. We have just Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim, but that’s not that big a club.“I think they have to invest more money also for women’s teams.“In England, it’s a very good development here. It was also a reason for me to come to England because the league here has developed in a very good way in the last few years.”Maier’s competitive debut for the Gunners could come on Sunday, when they open their season at home to West Ham United.Whether that will be from the start or not is unclear – and another sign of how strong Arsenal’s squad this season is.“I think it’s always good for a player to have competition,” Maier says.“You have to work hard and give everything every training and every game give your best performance.“That’s the best way to getting better as a player but also as a team.”Kick off at Meadow Park this weekend is 14:30 BST.