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February 10, 2019

Captain Molik

Ashleigh Barty

Daria Gavrilova

Priscilla Hon

Kimberly Birrell

Astra Sharma

Asheville, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Ash, second time now in two years you've won three points for your country in Fed Cup. How are you able to summon that energy and that will to get it done for the team?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: I've said right from the start, it's an honor and privilege to be able to play for Australia. When Mol asked me to play three times during the week, I put my hand up absolutely, do whatever she asks.

For all of us, I'm so proud of every single person sitting on this table. I think in particularly Mol having the belief and the faith in us, knowing that whoever she puts out on the court, we can back in 100%.

Q. Alicia, good call going with Pri for the doubles match. What went into that decision?
CAPTAIN MOLIK: Well, the combination. We always thought Pri would combine well with Ash. Their games and strengths complement each other. That's what you always search for in a good doubles team, when two individuals can combine with different varying damaging strengths.

Pri showed me why she's such a good fighter. Serving out to love, by the way. Hitting big returns, bringing Ash into the play at net. That's important.

She was fresh. She was preparing for doubles all week. She was a perfect option.

Q. On Friday you talked about how important this was, an opportunity to make the semifinals only once since 1995. Now reflect on the fact that you have done it.
CAPTAIN MOLIK: Yeah, well, it's been a long time between drinks, hasn't it? I'm happy because this is such a youthful team, such a young team. In the past, we've always really relied on a couple of senior players, obviously, Sam Stosur. To have so much youth on the team, not all these players are in the same experience as Ash and Dash, but they've more than proven their worth.

What's most pleasing to me is there's a lot of options this week. It was actually difficult for Nicole Pratt and I to select the team because everyone's level was incredibly high.

From my perspective, that's important going forward, that we have so many young players. There's still quite a few beneath them who are pushing for spots on the team, as well.

Q. You get to host Belarus. How important is that, to be able to be the host?
CAPTAIN MOLIK: We love playing at home. I mean, we've traveled so much. As Australians, we probably spend more time on the road than players from other nations. So the fact we have a tie at home, it's important to us. It's an extra week at home.

You had your junior players here enjoying the tie. Now we have that opportunity to do the same back at home, get a lot of young girls involved in camps. That's what we make the focus of during Fed Cup week, too, is just displaying the team's great tennis to the world and having a lot of junior camps and activations around it, which are really important.

That's what I hope remains in Fed Cup, home and away ties. I think that's the future of tennis.

Q. Coming from summer, hot summer weather, psychologically how did you prepare yourselves coming up here? It's indoors, but it's a climate change.
KIMBERLY BIRRELL: I was in Thailand last week. Complete opposite. Hot and humid. We can't really get used to the conditions until we actually get here.

Being here one week earlier, getting here early and being prepared was key.

Q. It was a small venue, so everyone is right on top of you. What was that feeling like?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: It's the best feeling in the world, to be honest. No matter what the crowd is like, when you're playing with Australia written on your back, wearing the green and gold, it's the best feeling, regardless if you're home or away.

I think the court, when it's like that, it gets the crowd involved. But I know we certainly heard every single voice of our 15-man team that were here with us. Most importantly we got across the line.

Q. The tie is never decided until the last shot. As a team, how were you handling the ups and downs? Captain, how were you handling that?
CAPTAIN MOLIK: I think at the end of the day our team probably kept their composure throughout the two sets. I think that was maybe a deciding factor. You have a lot of experience here. You have one part of the team that is a Grand Slam doubles champion, multiple Grand Slam doubles finalist. When you combine a lot of experience with a player such as Pri with so much talent, you can do everything. They just handled it really well.

Q. How much strategy was involved with the last rubber match of the doubles? Was there a strategy from the first ball hit?
CAPTAIN MOLIK: Yeah, absolutely. Our team are really familiar with both Melichar and Collins. We obviously saw them a lot in singles. I think the majority of the players sitting here would have played, a number of them, in doubles on the tour.

That's part of the reason also to get here early, is to prepare, to make sure we watch enough of our opponent so we can I guess have the right strategies on the court, which we did.

Q. Some thoughts to the Belorussian girls. You probably know them pretty well. They've been doing well. Early scouting.
CAPTAIN MOLIK: Yeah, I'll throw this one to Dasha.

DANIELLE COLLINS: They actually have a really young team, as well. Sabalenka is probably playing her best tennis right now. Sasnovich is right behind her. She's been pretty consistent. They've got Azarenka. She brings the experience to the team.

I think it's going to be a very challenging tie. But we'll have the home advantage. Hopefully we can get to the finals.

Q. Pri, what was it like to share the court with Ash? How was she able to guide you through the pressure?
PRISCILLA HON: I mean, we are both from Brisbane, we've kind of grown up together. I've always looked up to her, have so much respect for her. To be able to share the court with her was already like a massive deal for me. I was trying not to freak out.

But, yeah, I mean, it was tight out there obviously. I wanted to win for Australia. She just kept trying to back me. She was always there for me when I was a little bit off the rails, a little bit negative. She would always kind of comfort me, help me believe in myself. Yeah, it's a bonus to get the win.

Q. Ash and Pri, what was the feeling when you won the tie for Australia?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: It's the best feeling in the world, it really is. I've been able to have a little bit of a taste of it before. But certainly I said to Pri, to all the girls after the match, How good is Fed Cup? How good is it playing for Australia?

These are the moments you remember for the rest of your life. You play a million matches on tour, but the best memories come from these Fed Cup weeks. It's just really special that I'm able to be here. To play that last rubber with Pri was unreal.

PRISCILLA HON: Yeah, I've never sweat so much before. Even playing for myself, I know what nerves are, but just having your whole team, you're playing for Australia obviously, it's a complete different feeling.

Getting the win, I don't think it's really sunk in yet, to be honest. Yeah, I don't even know how to describe this feeling at the moment. I'm just so happy we could get the win.

Q. Alicia, could you sum up how proud you are of the team?
CAPTAIN MOLIK: I'm incredibly proud. I mean, the win, beating the USA, winning this tie, put that aside. I think what I'm proud of is not just their efforts but commitment. Every player here has put their hand up incredibly early to play Fed Cup for Australia. They do exactly what is asked of them, what is expected of them.

We're here more than a week early to prepare. It's not a problem for anyone to get here a week early, get the work in. We realize that, we understand why we need to do it. That's probably what I'm most proud of.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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