Photo: Theron Kirkman / Professional SportFernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP)
Spain have won the Hyundai Hopman Cup after coming from 1-0 down to beat Serbia 2-1 in the final.
Novak Djokovic got Serbia off to a great start when he beat Fernando Verdasco 63 75. In a very tight match, Djokovic was pushed all the way by the Spaniard but proved just too strong when it came to the big points and Djokovic’s class shone through.
The Serb targeted Verdasco’s forehand early on and it paid off when he got an early break in the fourth game of the match. Djokovic’s serve was also in fine form in the first set and he only conceded four points from five service games.
The second set appeared to be continuing in the same fashion when Djokovic forced two break points in the opening game, but Verdasco saved both points with his forehand becoming more of a weapon.
The Spaniard’s forehand continued to improve and he engineered a break of serve before consolidating by holding his own and moved 3-0 ahead. Djokovic recovered to hold his own serve and Verdasco made a few errors to be broken back to make it 3-2 and the set was back on serve. Djokovic’s serve was proving important, with the Serb producing big serves on key points to hold for 3-3.
Verdasco started to make a few more errors and faced break points again in the ninth game, but he saved those with a few big serves to keep the set on-serve. However, Djokovic was in the ascendency and he forced a few more break points in the next game, one of which he was able to take to put himself one game away from victory. Djokovic then served the match out with no trouble to give Serbia a 1-0 lead in the final.
The second match saw Ana Ivanovic take on Anabel Medina Garrigues with Ivanovic knowing that if she could beat Medina Garrigues then she would seal Serbia’s first victory in the Hopman Cup.
Anabel Medina Garrigues started quickly, changing her natural playing style in an attempt to upset Ivanovic’s rhythm. Ivanovic took the first two games of the opening set but Medina Garrigues was causing her a few problems.
In the third game, the Spaniard attacked the Ivanovic serve and forced a few break points. Ivanovic saved the first five but the pressure eventually told and the Spaniard had a break back. There were a few holds of serve and then in the ninth game, with the set at 4-4, Medina Garrigues exposed a few more chinks in the Serb’s armour and broke her serve, before holding her own serve to secure the set 6-4.
Ivanovic came out for the second set with all guns blazing and continually forced her opponent further and further behind the baseline, causing Medina Garrigues to revert back to her original style of play. Ivanovic moved 5-3 up but somehow lost her serve, allowing the Spaniard to force her way back into the set, forcing a tiebreak.
Ivanovic quickly regained her composure to power her way through the tiebreak, taking it 7-3 and forcing a deciding set. That didn’t put the Spaniard off, however, and she raced into a 3-0 lead in the final set.
Though Ivanovic had a few small chances to claw her way back into the set, Medina Garrigues held on to win 6-2, breaking the Serb in the final game to secure a famous victory. As she won the final point, she collapsed to the floor in celebration.
This meant that the match would move into a deciding mixed doubles rubber, with Spain having won every one of their doubles matches in this year’s competition
Spain engineered a break in just the third game of the match to go 2-1 up and clinch the early advantage in the set, but it didn’t last long as Serbia broke straight back in the next game, levelling the set at 2-2. Spain then broke back again to move 3-2 up before consolidating their break by holding serve to move 4-2 up. This rattled the Serbians and their serve broke down again, handing Spain another break, making it 5-2 in the first set with Spain serving for the set.
The Serbian team, however, was comprised of the men’s world No. 1 as well as a former women’s No. 1, and the best players in the world do not lie down. They broke Spain back making it 5-3, then held their own serve for 5-4 and put pressure on the Spanish pair as they attempted to serve the set out again. Fernando Verdasco held his nerve to clinch the first set for Spain.
The second set went with serve, but in the eighth game, with Spain serving at 3-4, Serbia engineered a break point. They were unable to convert it, however, and the set moved on to 4-4. Then it was Spain’s turn to try and break serve, but Serbia saved a break point to move within one game of the set.
A great service game from Spain levelled the set at 5-5 and put pressure on the Serbian serve. The Serbian serve, which had seemed impenetrable earlier in the set, broke down, handing Spain a 6-5 lead in the second set and a chance to serve for the title.
Serbia could do nothing to prevent the defeat as Spain held serve to take the second set 7-5 and, with it, the match and the title of Hyundai Hopman Cup Champions for the first time since 2010.