Australia have been dumped out of the Fed Cup World Group for the first time since 2012 after a shock 4-1 loss to the Netherlands in their play-off.
Aussies Casey Dellacqua and Jarmila Gajdosova both lost their reverse-single matches with the tie evenly poised at 1-1 to give the Dutch an unassailable 3-1 lead.
Dellacqua was convincingly beaten 6-2 6-3 by world no.86 Kiki Bertens, having won her opening match on Day 1. The world No. 44 was filling in for Sam Stosur, who was sidelined with an achilles injury.
Gajdosova looked on her way to keeping Australia in the tie against Arantxa Rus after taking the first set to love and up a break in the second. However the 27-year-old crumbled losing the next two sets to resign Alicia Molik’s side to a defeat against their hosts.
“I thought Arantxa was running out of lives, she was getting very tight and threw in some double faults,” Aussie captain Alicia Molik said.
“It’s a very disappointing day for us naturally but credit to Arantxa Rus because for her she has an uncanny ability to beat players ranked well above her.
“We have work to do to fight our way back to the World Group.”
The clay court result continued a remarkable run of form for the Netherlands which has seen them win seven consecutive ties, elevating them to the World Group for the first time since 1998.
Meanwhile Australia will be demoted to the Fed Cup’s second-tier in 2016, having made the semi-finals of last year’s World Group.