Barty gives Australia Fed Cup lead

Darren Walton
Ashleigh Barty has led Australia back into the Fed Cup World Group

Ashleigh Barty has put Australia within sight of the Fed Cup World Group with an impressive win over Netherlands No.1 Lesley Kerkhove.

Barty defeated Kerkhove 6-4 6-2 in Sunday's first reverse singles rubber to give Australia a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five-match indoor tie at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre.

Daria Gavrilova can secure Australia's return to the eight-nation World Group in 2019 with victory over world No.295 Quirine Lemoine in Sunday's second singles match.

Defeat for Gavrilova would leave Barty and Samantha Stosur needing to beat Demi Schuurs and Indy de Vroome in a do-or-die doubles encounter to avoid a shock loss to the depleted Dutch.

With French Open semi-finalist Kiki Bertens among the Netherlands' top four players who opted out of the tie, Dutch captain Paul Haarhuis arrived in Australia without anyone ranked inside the world's top 200.

Kerkhove's stunning upset of Stosur in Saturday's opening singles rubber gave the underdogs hope.

But Barty has since lived up to her standing as the top-ranked player in the tie with a pair of commanding straight-sets wins to put Australia back in the box seat.

The world No.19 followed up her 6-0 6-2 rout of Lemoine with another steely display to improve her Fed Cup record to 11-2 - and 6-1 in singles.

Barty claimed the only break of the opening set when Kerkhove finally faltered serving at 4-5 down.

The 21-year-old didn't face a single break point on her own serve, but broke Kerkhove twice more in the second set to clinch victory after just 66 minutes.