The third day in Perth’s Hopman Cup matches revealed the steely resolve of the team from the Czech Republic. In their second match, they shocked the fancied Italian side 3-0, after upsetting Canada 2-1 on the first day. Both Lucie Safarova and Adam Pavlasek played to their full potential without getting overawed by views expressed by the tennis media. With just one match remaining for the Czechs against USA on Thursday, Safarova and Pavlasek look strong contenders for the top spot in Group A. In the other match of the day, Serena Williams was off-color against Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard. The Canadian player, who had a bad first match against Safarova, found her form as she beat the world no.1 Serena without too much trouble. Bouchard dropped just three games to score a stunning win against Serena. Shortly afterwards, Bouchard’s compatriot Vasek Pospisil displayed better tennis skills than John Isner is his 6-3, 7-6 victory over the American. That sealed the rubber for the Canadians and USA’s mixed doubles victory became inconsequential.
The day tie at Perth was played between the Czech Republic and Italy. The opener was women’s singles match in which Lucie Safarova played against a higher ranked opponent, Flavia Pennetta. Regardless, Safarova was nonchalant in her approach and played a steady game after some early trouble in the first set. Pennetta had taken a 3-1 lead but Safarova rallied to make it 3-3 by breaking the Italian’s serve. Safarova broke again at 5-5 and took the first set 7-5. In the second set, the roles were reversed, when Safarova raced to a 3-0 lead but this time it was the turn of the Italian to wipe out that lead by equaling at 3-3. But that was the farthest Pennnetta could go as Safarova emphatically reeled off the next three points to win the match 7-5, 6-3.
In the men’s singles match, Safarova’s compatriot Adam Pavlasek stunned his more celebrated opponent and world no.19 Fabio Fognini in three sets. Pavlasek is not heard of in the ATP circuit but that didn’t bother the 239th-ranked Czech as he fought back after losing the first set 3-6. Something went wrong with Fognini’s game as he lost the second set 5-7 and almost gave up the deciding third 1-6. With the rubber already decided in the Czech’s favor, Fognini and Pennetta decided to forfeit the dead mixed doubles match. The Italian team cited the reasons as those related to heat on the court.
In the match played at night, Canada beat USA 2-1 to register their first victory in the Hopman Cup Group match. The first match was played between Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard and world no.1 Serena Williams. Bouchard had looked rusty in her match against Safarova on day one but against Serena, she looked in terrific form. The world no.6 Bouchard required just 50 minutes in beating the world’s best woman player 6-2, 6-1. Serena looked like a ghost of her true self in the match against the Canadian, for whom it was the first ever victory over Serena. The American admitted that she was quite tired and couldn’t move around. Later, Bouchard’s compatriot Vasek Pospisil sealed the victory for Canada, when he beat world no. 18 John Isner 6-3, 7-6. Ranked 56 in the world, Pospisil could break Isner’s service only once but that was enough for him to take the first set. He fought hard in the second set that went to the tie-break. Pospisil finally closed out the match 6-3 7-6. In the mixed doubles match, Serena and Isner beat Bouchard and Pospisil 6-3 7-5. The unbeaten Czech team will go to the final if they beat USA on Thursday. But if they lose, any of the Group A teams can make it to the final as per the rules contained in the tournament format.
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