Molik: Fighting Aussies can win BJK Cup

Australia captain Alicia Molik believes her unsung tennis women can beat the world at the Billie Jean King Cup - even without a world-beater in their ranks.

Molik's spirited team demonstrated they could thrive even without the magic of Ash Barty to inspire them when they reached the semi-finals of last year's event which is seen as the World Cup of women's tennis.

Now in the post-Barty era, she's convinced her outfit of "dedicated and diligent" battlers can go even further this week, causing a sensation by winning the whole week-long event in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

"We had a lot of highlights in last year's event in Prague, a lot of great memories, a lot of success, and having that taste makes us great feel like we want to go a step further this time," Molik told reporters on Sunday.

"Absolutely, we have big ambitions. We got close last year and probably what helped us is that Australian tennis players, and this team in particular, are pretty dedicated and diligent, they're fighters.

"I feel like we've got the stamina, the fight and the willpower that goes a long way too when it's the end of a long hard year, everyone's tired, and I really feel like our team can really step up.

It was a bullish declaration from Molik, whose five-woman team - on paper at least - hardly look to have the ammunition for Australia needed to lift the trophy formerly known as the Fed Cup for the first time since 1974.

They are the No.1 seeds but that ranking dates back to April, just after Barty had retired - and it's now down to a buoyant Ajla Tomljanovic, currently at a career-high world No.33, to spearhead a team whose next-best ranked singles player is Priscilla Hon, at a lowly 153.

Storm Sanders, the world No.236, is likely to be in contention with Hon for the second singles spot, while Ellen Perez and the indefatigable veteran Sam Stosur make up the squad.

With Barty on board, the team reached the final in 2019, losing agonisingly to France 3-2 in Perth - still a painful memory for Molik, Tomljanovic and Stosur.

"Perth was a bit heartbreaking to lose, so absolutely we'd love to try to put some different memories there," said 38-year-old Stosur, back in BJK Cup action again - astonishingly, 19 years on from her debut.

By reaching last year's semi-final without Barty, Molik felt her team had shown there really could be life without the world No.1.

"Ash's retirement gives a bit of an opening to every other player in Australia to step up and try to steal that No.1 position in Australia and in the world.

"Ajla's done that this year with her career-high ranking. It's a great opportunity for everyone else to pave their own way and step up.

"We've shown our best tennis is top tennis - it's world-rated and it's match-winning and tournament-winning.

"I really feel our best is very, very good."

On Tuesday, the Aussies open up against Slovakia in their first three-rubber tie, before facing Belgium on Thursday, with only the winners of their three-team group going on to Saturday's semi-final. The final is set for 24 hours later.