Molik admits Barty was missed in BJK Cup

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Australia's captain Alicia Molik concedes that her team missed Ash Barty during their brave bid to win the Billie Jean King Cup but organisers hope new changes to the timetable will see the world No.1 and other stars compete in next year's finals.

If Barty is on board next year, Molik is confident the experience picked up by understudies like Storm Sanders, who performed superbly in Prague to spearhead their unexpected push into the semi-finals, will help forge an outstanding Australia team for the future.

It was announced on Saturday, before Russia won the 2021 Cup, that next year's finals of the revamped Fed Cup will be held a week later than this year's edition - from November 8-13 - with organisers saying they're working with the women's tour to allow more top players to attend.

Many top players, including the world's top three - Barty, Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, and Czech Karolina Pliskova - didn't play, as it was too close to the end-of-season WTA Finals which start on Wednesday in Mexico.

Barty was already committed to returning to Australia after a successful but marathon season.

On Saturday, Australia were handed a home draw against Slovakia in the 2022 BJK Cup qualifiers, which will delight Molik and Australian No.2 player Alicia Molik, who both admitted they had missed the vocal home support that they'd enjoyed in Perth in the 2019 final.

Molik's team will have to win the tie on April 15 and 16 to again qualify for the finals at an as yet unnamed venue, but it's not known yet whether Barty will be available to compete in the qualifier.

"Between us as a team, we hadn't had many ties and I'd be lying if I said we didn't miss Ash immensely," admitted Molik.

"But I think at the same time, having a young team means that everyone has to be responsible and step up and that teaches you a lot of lessons.

"For the younger players to have that sense of responsibility to their team and their country and meet that need to really step up was important.

"My team through the week has put in an incredible performance all week. I'm incredibly proud."

2022 qualifiers draw (home teams first)

Australia v Slovakia

France v Italy

United States v Ukraine

Czech Republic v Great Britain

Belarus v Belgium

Kazakhstan v Germany

Canada v Latvia

Netherlands v Spain

Poland v Romania

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