Australian captain Alicia Molik has backed Ajla Tomljanovic in her Billie Jean King Cup team for November’s finals despite the former world No.32 only playing two matches after returning from nine months out with a knee injury.
Tomljanovic made an aborted return at the US Open, winning her opening-round clash before withdrawing ahead of her next game.
She has dropped to 430th in the rankings due to her long absence but was part of the Australian team that reached the final last year and has been backed by Molik for the November tournament in Seville.
Australia automatically qualified after making last year’s final, with Storm Hunter and Ellen Perez also returning after being part of the team that lost to Switzerland in Glasgow last year.
Priscilla Hon and the now-retired Sam Stosur have been replaced by Kimberley Birrell and Daria Saville, who is also on the comeback trail from an ACL injury.
Molik said Australia always “punches above its weight” in team events and backed the players who had injury-interrupted years to thrive in the green and gold.
“As we always do, Australia punches above its weight. We reached the final last year and we have huge ambitions to go one further and win the event.
“I know we’ve had an interrupted past 12 months with various injuries to Alja and Dash, but we have so much experience in this team. I really feel like in the clutch moments they can be relied upon.
“Storm, as doubles world No.2, puts us in great stead too. We have a versatile bunch which I’m really proud of.
“Personally, I can’t wait to get to Seville because being part of the Australian team has always been a highlight for me, whether it be as a player or as a captain. I’ll be trying to get the most out of my players. It doesn’t change for this upcoming tie. The goal is to do as well as we possibly can and show the world what we are made of.”
Molik said she wasn’t keen to step down from the role just yet with “ unfinished business in Seville”.
“I’m going to give it my all. I’m excited by the prospect of the challenge once again, which I always have been,” she said.
The Australians will launch the event on centre court in the Estadio de la Cartuja against Slovenia on November 7.
Twelve nations will compete in the Billie Jean King Cup, formally known as the FedEX Cup, competing in four groups of three nations.
AUSTRALIAN BILLIE JEAN KING CUP TEAM
Kimberly Birrell, Storm Hunter, Daria Saville, Ajla Tomljanovic, Ellen Perez.
Captain: Alicia Molik