Samantha Stosur had just 15 minutes to turn a miserable day into a career highlight that left her in tears and on the verge of breaking a 45-year drought for Australian women's tennis.
The Queenslander had the chance to seal Australia's Fed Cup semi-final against Belarus on Sunday but was blown away by former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka 6-1 6-1.
The loss forced their Brisbane tie into a deciding fifth doubles rubber.
Australian captain Alicia Molik backed the current Australian Open doubles champion and she delivered with Ashleigh Barty in a 7-5 3-6 6-2 triumph.
"Don't get me started," she said, holding back more tears after the win over Aryna Sabalenka and on Sunday.
"I'm very, very happy, very pleased. It was super exciting to bounce back and come out and play as well as what we did together … it was just incredible."
Stosur was earlier preferred over the higher-ranked Daria Gavrilova. But she couldn't repay the faith of Molic when given the chance to clinch the tie.
Having watched Barty sweep aside world No.10 Sabalenka 6-2 6-2, Stosur folded 6-1 6-1, holding her serve just once in the match.
The emotional toll may have been great for a moment, but physically the superfit Stosur bounced straight back when paired with Barty in the doubles.
Stosur reset to improve her perfect Fed Cup doubles record to 8-0 thanks to some quick hands and assured court craft under immense pressure.
The former US Open champion produced some vintage moments in back-to-back points from 15-30 down to hold and secure a quality first set.
Momentum swung when they missed a chance to break Azarenka’s serve at 3-3, with Stosur immediately broken and Sabalenka forcing a decider.
Both countries then produced the goods in a series of scintillating third-set rallies. Australia grabbed the first break and Barty held firm for a 4-1 lead.
Stosur then held to love to get the hosts within one game and hit the winning volley on their third match point in the next game to clinch the tie.
‘‘I could not have picked two more perfect athletes to contest this final rubber,’’ Molik said.‘‘I’m just so proud of my team.’’
Both women will depart for the clay and grass courts of Europe before returning for a November home final in a city to be confirmed.
FED CUP SEMI FINAL
Sabalenka bt Stosur 7-5 5-7 6-3
Barty bt Azarenka 7-6 (7-2) 6-3
Barty bt Sabalenka 6-2 6-2
Azarenka bt Stosur 6-1 6-1
Barty/Stosur bt Azarenka/Sabalenka 7-5 3-6 6-2
Australia win 3-2