Sania-Bopanna keep clean doubles record despite loss


Perth : Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna kept their unbeaten record in doubles Thursday though India failed to get into the final of the Hopman Cup. Even as India was playing the Czech Republic, the United States on an adjoining court blanked hosts Australia to book their ninth entry into the final of the tennis tournament.

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However, Sania Mirza would have been disappointed at losing to Lucie Safarova, who she had beaten in the same competition last year. Sania, who needed on-court treatment for a back problem, lost in three tough sets. She went down 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Safarova got off to a flying start against Mirza, winning the opening set 6-3. The battle between the world’s No. 23 and 31 then heated up when Mirza levelled the match by taking the second set 6-4.

Safarova proved too strong in the third to record her first singles win of the week, clinching the deciding set 6-3.

Then Tomas Berdych beat Bopanna 6-4, 6-0 to ensure an unassailable 2-0 lead.

The win in the last tie was a small consolation for the two losses.

Safarova had struggled with a slight illness and leg injury in her opening two losses to Australia’s Alicia Molik and Serena Williams, while Berdych began with a win over Peter Luczak. Later Berdych was forced to withdraw from his match with American Mardy Fish due to a stomach virus.

Having recovered from the bug that kept him from playing on Monday, Berdych overcame a slow start against Bopanna to win in straight sets. Bopanna held a 2-0 lead to start the match, but Berdych responded by winning the next five games to eventually take the set 6-4. He then dominated the second, taking it 6-0.

However, the Indians made sure they left Perth undefeated in the doubles, beating Safarova and Berdych 6-3, 6-2. The Indians have not lost any doubles match at Hopman Cup in the last two years.

India finished second in Group B and the Czech Republic fourth.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams and Mardy Fish booked the US a place in the Hyundai Hopman Cup final by winning their singles matches over Australia’s Alicia Molik and Peter Luczak.

The victory in Thursday’s tie left the Americans undefeated at the event despite Meghann Shaughnessy substituting for Williams in the opening tie on Saturday.

Williams’ 6-2, 7-6 win over Molik in front of a jam-packed Burswood Dome Centre Court sealed the United States’ place in the final.

Fish and Luczak then had a ding-dong battle though a final spot was no longer riding on the result. Both sets went to a tie-break, with Fish winning the first 7-5 and second 13-11.

In the mixed doubles, Williams and Fish had a good preparation for the final beating Molik and Luczak 6-2, 6-3.

It will be the country’s ninth appearance with Williams and Fish trying to provide the US with its fifth Hopman Cup crown.