Photo: Theron Kirkman / Professional SportAndrea Petkovic (GER)
The 25th edition of the Hyundai Hopman Cup started with a bang on Saturday as Spain edged a close encounter against South Africa before Germany’s Andrea Petkovic was forced to retire with a right knee injury to hand victory to Australia.
Taking place for the first time at the Perth Arena in Western Australia, the official mixed team event was full of thrills and spills on day one of the competition.
Spain and South Africa opened up proceedings and it was Kevin Anderson who gave the southern hemisphere side a surprise early lead after defeating Fernando Verdasco 76(5) 64 in the first singles rubber.
Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues levelled the tie with a comfortable 64 62 win over Chanelle Scheepers to send the clash into a deciding doubles rubber.
It was a desperately close encounter and South Africa were unable to find a way through in the first set but soon found their groove and clinched the second set with a well-fought tiebreak.
With the scores level at one-set all, the tie – and the match – would have to be decided by a super tiebreak. South Africa raced out to an 8-5 lead but Spain showed their coolness under pressure to win five consecutive points and with it take the first point of their 2013 Hopman Cup campaign.
The second tie of the day pitted hosts Australia against a German team, which on paper was a dark horse to win the tournament.
Tommy Haas, however, came unstuck against the young Bernard Tomic in the opening rubber, losing a tight match 76(6) 36 75 to mean Andrea Petkovic would have to win her match-up against the inexperienced teenager Ashleigh Barty to keep her team’s hopes alive of winning.
Barty took the first set – much to the delight and surprise of the home crowd – but Petkovic called for the trainer and was forced to retire due to a right knee injury.
The German, who has had her fair share of injury woes in 2012, left the court in tears and it remains to be seen if she can continue to take part in the competition.
The Germans are next scheduled to play on Wednesday against Italy.