Aussies set to feel friendless at BJK Cup

Ajla Tomljanovic has been enthusing about the support for Australia at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow, declaring she hopes the "crowds keep coming".

Well, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for ...

The crowds will be flocking to the Emirates Arena all right, but on Saturday, they'll be rolling up in the hope of watching Australia get turned over by the hosts in the semi-final of what's become the World Cup of women's tennis.

And after the cheers so far for Alicia Molik's team during a hugely encouraging week, they're sure to feel pretty friendless when a potential full house turns up the volume behind a British team who've just made the semi-finals for the first time in 41 years.

Not that Molik's team, dubbed a group of "fighters" by the captain, will be intimidated.

As Storm Sanders, their star turn with three victories already this week, put it: "We are not here to participate - we are here to try and win this event.

"Everyone on the team, it's a priority for us to win. So, semi-finals is, yeah, a good step but we're here for more."

Still, the nature of the Australians' task, as they scent the real possibility of winning what used to be called the Federation Cup for the first time since Evonne Goolagong led the 1974 triumph, changed markedly on a thrilling Thursday evening for the hosts.

Down and predicted almost certainly to be out, Britain, inspired by Harriet Dart's career-best triumph over world No.13 Paula Badosa, pulled off a Houdini act to beat Spain 3-0 and edge qualification for the knock-out stage.

The vociferous home support helped them carry the day, with GB captain Anne Keothavong suggesting the idea of winning all three rubbers against Spain without dropping a set had been "unreal".

The British doubles heroes were the fledgling pair of Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls, who've won both their matches this week.

And Keothavong had a jokey warning for their semi-final opponents, saying: "Gee, they haven't heard Heather (Watson) and Liv (Nicholls) with their Aussie accents, psyching them out before we even make it to the court!"

Of course, Keothavong concedes the form of Sanders and Tomljanovic is no joke as they'd earlier both continued their unbeaten singles record this week in the 3-0 win over Belgium.

"We have been watching Storm Sanders playing really well at No.2, I think she's probably been the standout for the Aussie team," said Keothavong.

"They are a tough team, with plenty of experience in this competition ... but look, we have to believe, and we're certainly on a high at the moment, but tomorrow it's back to work and preparing for that match."

Veteran Sam Stosur, who partnered Sanders in their doubles win against Belgium for her 38th BJK Cup win, senses something special is brewing in a team which, on paper, had looked long shots.

"Oh, absolutely. Every team I've been on has been special, but after having our final in Perth in 2019 (when Australia lost to France) which was a heartbreaking day for all of us who were there, well this is another opportunity," said the 38-year-old.

"We are in the semis but we definitely want to go further, and we do believe that we can go further."