Australia’s women have bowed out of the Fed Cup World Group at the hands of Germany for a second consecutive year.
Sam Stosur and Jarmila Gajdosova both lost their reverse singles matches in Stuttgart on Sunday to give the hosts an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five first-round tie.
Top-ranked Aussie Stosur fell 6-2 6-4 to German No. 1 Angelique Kerber before German endurance queen Andrea Petkovic overcame a gallant Jarmila Gajdosova 6-3 3-6 8-6 to secure her second win of the tie and overall victory.
Having been knocked out by the Germans in last year’s semi-finals the loss condemns Alicia Molik’s Australian side to a World Group play-off in April to retain their status in the competition’s top tier for 2016.
Australia were unable to make the most of a perfect start to the indoor hardcourt tie after Gajdosova upset Kerber in Saturday’s opening singles match.
Stosur had a match point to put her team 2-0 up before painfully going down 12-10 in the third set of a three-hour epic against tie hero Petkovic.
The marathon encounter seemingly zapped the energy from a disheartened Stosur as she struggled for timing and made 17 unforced errors against Kerber on Sunday.
After a one-sided first set, a frustrated Stosur fought hard to stay in the second before eventually caving under relentless pressure from the world No. 10.
It continued an unhappy recent Fed Cup run for the former US Open champion, who was also beaten by Kerber and Petkovic in the 3-1 loss in Brisbane last year.
Gajdosova, looking to repeat a win over Petkovic in Sydney last month, was on course to force a deciding fifth rubber when a break up in the third set after staging another fightback from a set down.
However 12th-ranked Petkovic, seemingly showing no ill-effects from the tough encounter with Stosur, broke back before securing another gutsy win in just under two hours.
Germany next travel to Russia for a last-four encounter and the chance to reach back-to-back finals.