Ashleigh Barty expects plenty more from doubles partner Victoria Azarenka than her misleading ranking suggests when the pair play for just the second time in a Fed Cup semi-final in Brisbane.
Belarusian Azarenka was a late arrival for the tie starting on Saturday but, like Samantha Stosur for the hosts, has won a singles spot ahead of higher-ranked teammates in a nod to her experience.
The 29-year-old is a former world No.1 who has won the Australian Open and Brisbane International twice.
Currently ranked 61 in the world, the charismatic star is back to near her best after the birth of first child Leo in December 2016.
Barty, who has surged to world No.9, has struck up a friendship with her opponent, reaching a Miami Open doubles semi-final with her three weeks ago.
"She's a grand slam champion and that's the way she conducts herself on court and particularly in Australia where she's had some of her best results," Barty said.
"In a way it's remarkable what's she's been able to do after having Leo.
"Regardless of the number next to her name she fights and prepares like a grand slam champion."
Azarenka beat Barty 6-4 6-2 in Tokyo last September in their only career meeting.
"It was pretty one-way traffic," Barty said.
"But I've hit a few more balls with her and got to know her a lot better (since)."
Stosur will lead Australia off against world No.10 Aryna Sabalenka after winning the spot ahead of Daria Gavrilova, who is ranked 15 spots higher than her at 58.
Australia are gunning for their first Fed Cup final appearance, which would be on home soil in November, since 1993.
They haven't won a tie since 1974, when led by Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
"There's so much at stake for us, it's something we always talk about," captain Alicia Molik said.
"It's been a conscious talking point since the last time we made the semi-final (in 2014).
"We have an end goal and that's November ... it's a huge hurdle this weekend but we've set our bar pretty high."
Australian Associated Press