Germany And Australia Remain Undefeated At Hopman Cup

Ashleigh Barty and Matthew Ebden secure victory for Australia (photo: Hopman Cup)

PERTH, January 2, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

Germany (2-0) remained undefeated at the Mastercard Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, on the strength of a pair of singles victories by Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev against France on Thursday. Germany’s 2-1 win sets up a Friday evening Group A showdown against host Australia (2-0), which pulled out a dramatic three-set doubles match to beat winless Spain, 2-1.

In the day session, Kerber came from a set down to beat No. 45 Alize Cornet, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. She overcame 43 unforced errors by hitting 39 winners – including one in the first set that was set up by a nifty in-between-the-legs return that dazzled the stadium crowd. Kerber’s victory in two hours and three minutes marked the first time this year she’s come back to win after losing the first set.

“She is a fighter,” said Cornet, praising the World No. 2 Kerber.

Kerber, who is undefeated in six singles matches during her Hopman Cup career, said after her win, “I’m just trying to find my game, my rhythm and trying new things on court too. I was exploring the tennis court.

“For me it’s always good to have a long, close match. Also, winning the match and knowing in the important moments I can go for it.”

Zverev followed Kerber’s success by defeating Lucas Pouille, 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-2. Although the World No. 4 failed to convert a match point during the second-set tie-break, he rallied to win the point for Germany and clinch the tie.

“I just hope to keep going with Angie, and we’ll see what else we can do (in this tournament),” said Zverev following his win.

Later, Cornet and Pouille beat Kerber and Zverev, 4-3 (4), 4-3 (3), for France’s only point.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s night session tie between Australia and Spain came down to a final-set tie-break in mixed doubles. Ashleigh Barty and Matt Ebden pulled out a hard-fought victory against Garbiñe Muguruza and David Ferrer, 3-4 (3), 4-3 (0), 4-3 (3), using the Tennis Australia “Fast Four” format, in which sets are played to four games with no-ad scoring and a nine-point tie-break at 3-all.

“I wish we could have done it a little more straightforward,” said Barty during an on-court TV interview after her team’s victory. “Still, it’s a lot of fun out here and to get our mojo going – especially in this tie-break.”

Added Ebden: “The crowd really helped us out there tonight, especially during the third-set tie-break. Thank you!”

The Aussie’s mixed doubles success followed a split of two singles matches, in which No. 15 Barty lifted Australia to an early 1-0 lead with her 6-3, 6-4 win over the former World No. 1 Muguruza. She has yet to drop a set in either of her two matches. Then, Ferrer beat Ebden, 7-6 (1), 7-5, by capitalizing on 42 unforced errors by his opponent.

Ferrer has been a sentimental favorite in Perth this week. The Spaniard is playing just six events on tour in 2019 before he finishes his career in Madrid.

“I have been lucky to have important things,” Ferrer told the Hopman Cup’s website. “Trying to play consistent and to take care of myself, my body. I don’t know exactly but I am very proud of my career and will finish with fantastic memories.”

Hopman Cup notes

• Alexander Zverev is a proponent of the Hopman Cup. The German feels that the mixed-team tournament is an ideal tune-up for the Australian Open, which begins on January 14. This week, he’s faced No. 32 Lucas Pouille of France and the soon-to-retire David Ferrer of Spain, a former World No. 3 – winning both – and next faces No. 46 Matt Ebden of Australia on Friday.

“You want to play tough opponents; you want to play the best players before a Grand Slam,” said Zverev. “I played two very good players, and I’m happy to get those matches under my belt.”

• If Germany beats Australia in a battle of Group A undefeated teams on Friday evening, their likely opponent in Saturday’s final will be Switzerland (2-0), which faces Greece in its final Group B match on Thursday.

Angelique Kerber of Germany, who represented her country in the 2018 Hopman Cup mixed-team tournament, said, “I have great memories of last year, playing the finals here and I’m excited to be back this year and hopefully we can do a little bit better.”

• On Thursday, a pair of Group B ties highlight play. First, Great Britain (1-1) faces the United States (0-2) at 10 a.m. local time. It will be followed by Greece (1-1) versus Switzerland (2-0) at 5:30 p.m. local time.

Day five results – Group A

Germany 2, France 1

Angelique Kerber (GER) d Alize Cornet (FRA), 5-7, 6-2, 6-4
Alexander Zverev (GER) d Lucas Pouille (FRA), 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-2
Cornet / Pouille (FRA) d Kerber / Zverev (GER), 4-3 (4), 4-3 (3)

Australia 2, Spain 1

Ash Barty (AUS) d Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP), 6-3, 6-4
David Ferrer (ESP) d Matt Ebden (AUS), 7-6 (1), 7-5
Barty / Ebden (AUS) d Muguruza / Ferrer (ESP), 3-4 (3), 4-3 (0), 4-3 (3)