Poland and France are moving purposefully in this year’s Hopman Cup after claiming the two top spots in the 2014 edition. But unlike last year, they both have been bracketed in the same Group B. Therefore only one of them can reach the finals. If France beats Poland on Friday, they go to the final without question and the same holds good for Poland as well. For Group A teams, however, nothing is straightforward since there are several factors that will come into play. Poland faced Great Britain on January 7 and the outcome of the rubber was decided by the result of the mixed doubles match between Agnieszka Radwanska/Jerzy Janowicz and Heather Watson/Andy Murray. The match went 6-4, 6-4 in favor of the Poles in the end. Later at night, France also scored an identical 2-1 victory over Australia, after the men’s and women’s singles matches tied the rubber at 1-1. The French pair of Alize Cornet and Benoit Paire combined well to beat the Australians Dellacqua/Marinko Matosevic and completed their 100% win record.
After defeating Australia in their early match, the Polish team of Agnieszka Radwanska and Jerzy Janowicz played against Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Heather Watson. In the first match, world no.5 Radwanska faced Watson, who is ranked 50th by WTA. In the 64 minute match, Radwanska played a dominating game to smoke out the Britisher 6-3, 6-1. Watson could not put up against Radwanska at any stage and Great Britain had to rely only on the performance from Andy Murray in the remaining matches. In the men’s singles later, Andy Murray defeated the powerful Jerzy Janowicz 6-2 6-4. This brought the rubber level at 1-1 and everything rested on the outcome of the mixed doubles match.
In the mixed doubles, the Polish pair of Radwanska and Janowicz looked more formidable than their British counterpart and they created 15 break point opportunities in 20 games that were played. In contrast, Murray and Watson could only force three break points. Radwanska/Janowicz controlled the match admirably and finished with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
In the other tie played on Thursday night France also overpowered hosts Australia 2-1. Yet again the decision of the match came from the mixed doubles rubber after women’s and men’s singles rubbers were shared by the two teams. In the first match, Alize Cornet beat Casey Dellacqua after dropping the first set. But the Frenchwoman fought back to take the second set 7-5 and played powerfully in the decider to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. In the men’s singles, Australian Marinko Matosevic played brilliantly against Benoit Paire and took the first set easily at 6-2. But Paire raised his game and began playing better tennis mid-way through the match. He finally wrapped up the match 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. With scores level 1-1, the mixed doubles match became crucial. But the determined pair of Cornet and Paire fought hard against the Australians, who had the support of the entire stadium. In the end, France were able to keep their unbeaten record as Cornet/Paire defeated Dellacqua/Matosevic 7-6, 7-5 after an 86 minute battle.
On Friday, France will play Poland to earn a place in Saturday’s final. It is like a semifinal since the team that wins, marches into the final. For Poland, victory against France will also be a chance of avenging their defeat in the final match of 2014.