Czech Republic defeats France, wins Hopman Cup
PERTH THE CZECH Republic thrashed France to lift its second Hopman Cup on Saturday as world number two Petra Kvitova sent warning signals to her closest rivals ahead of the Australian Open.
Kvitova put her country ahead with the first victory of the day against Marion Bartoli, and her team-mate Tomas Berdych wrapped up the contest beating Richard Gasquet, with neither dropping a set. The mixed doubles was not played.
Unbeaten in her three previous singles matches in Perth, including beating world number one Caroline Wozniacki on Friday, Kvitova was too good for ninth-ranked Bartoli.
Kvitova won 10 of the last 11 games on her way to an impressive 7-5, 6-1 win, while Berdych, ranked seventh, overpowered the 19th-ranked Gasquet, 7-6 (7/0), 6-4.
Berdych was thrilled to have claimed one of the unique diamond- encrusted tennis balls presented to the winners and he paid tribute to Kvitova’s form during the tournament.
“Petra won all that she can, and I had some wins, and we are able to be here with such a nice trophy.” Kvitova said it was the perfect start to 2012, as she eyes the first Grand Slam of the year starting Monday week in Melbourne.
”It is great to win at the beginning of the season,” she said, adding that her form against Bartoli was better than against Wozniacki a day earlier.
Bartoli, 27, was up a break at 5-3 against Kvitova and served for the first set, but last year’s Wimbledon champion turned on the quality to reel off the next seven games and seize control. She hammered a forehand winner from the Bartoli serve to seal the first set after 59 minutes, and the 21- year-old continued in the same blistering form to earn an early break in the second set.
The Frenchwoman has one of the biggest serves on the women’s circuit, but had no answer to the Czech’s booming forehand, and Kvitova broke her three times in succession.
The Czech left-hander served out the match to love to wrap up a commanding performance that again signalled her intention to claim the top ranking off Denmark’s Wozniacki.
In the men’s singles, Berdych and Gasquet traded blows from the back of the court, but the Czech emulated his team-mate with a raft of forehand winners that wore down his opponent.
Gasquet clawed back one break and saved three match points in the ninth game, before Berdych served out the match with an ace.
It was the second title for the Czech Republic, after Jana Novotna and Petr Korda lifted the Hopman Cup in 1994, while it was two losses out of two for France after their defeat in 1998.
Czechoslovakia also won the inaugural Cup in 1989.