|Posted on January 7, 2012 at 1:00 PM|
Saturday, January 7, 2012 - Match Start At 3:00 pm
Czech Republic vs France
Match One – Women’s Single
Petra Kvitova vs Marion Bartoli
Match Two – Men’s Single
Tomas Berdych vs Richard Gasquet
Match Three – Mixed Doubles
Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych vs Marion Bartoli and Richard Gasquet
Final Preview - Czech Republic vs France
By Chris Pike
The Final of Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIV inside Perth's Burswood Dome has the potential to be one of the most exciting and competitive in tournament history between the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych, and France's Marion Bartoli and Richard Gasquet on Saturday.
All four players have been ranked in the top 10 with Kvitova currently No. 2, Berdych No. 7 and Bartoli No. 9. While Gasquet sits in 19th spot at present, he has been as high as No. 7 and based on his form this week in Perth it is only a matter of time before he returns to the top 10.
The Czech Republic entered Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIV as No. 1 seeds and have proven why all week with a 2-1 win over Bulgaria on Monday, 3-0 victory over the USA on Wednesday night and 2-0 win over Denmark on Friday.
It is the Czech Republic's eighth appearance at the Hyundai Hopman Cup and Kvitova and Berdych have qualified for the nation's second Final.
They are looking to replicate the performance of Jana Novotna and Petr Korda in 1994 as they beat Germany's Anke Huber and Bernd Karbacher in the Final of Hopman Cup VI.
This is France's 18th appearance in the Burswood Dome for the Hopman Cup and they are still searching for a first title.
The closest has been when Mary Pierce and Cedric Pioline made the Final in 1998, but lost the Hopman Cup X decider to the Slovak Republic's Karina Habsudova and Karol Kucera.
This week, No. 2 seed's Bartoli and Gasquet have beaten China 2-1 on Saturday, Australia 3-0 on Tuesday night and then Spain 2-0 on Thursday.
Kvitova had a simply amazing 2011 that saw her win six WTA Tour titles, including Wimbledon and the season-ending WTA Tour Championships, lead the Czech Republic to the Fed Cup and then end up being named the ITF World Champion and the WTA Player of the Year.
She ended the year as world No. 2 and knocking on the door of the top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and the way she has played this week at the Hyundai Hopman Cup it appears only a matter of time before she breaks through to claim that No. 1 ranking.
This week in singles she has beaten Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 6-2, the USA's Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-2, 6-1 and then Denmark's Wozniacki 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 to be unbeaten heading into the Final with Bartoli.
The Frenchwoman, though, who has won seven singles titles in her career and made the final of Wimbledon, is in tremendous form this week to start 2012 as well.
She arrived in Perth early and it has paid off for the 27-year-old. She recovered from a tight three-set loss to China's Li Na on Saturday to beat Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova 6-0, 6-0 on Tuesday night and then Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday.
Bartoli and Kvitova have played twice previously with the Frenchwoman winning both encounters. The first was in 2008 in Linz when she won in three sets and it again went the distance when she prevailed last year on grass at Eastbourne.
Berdych and Gasquet are two of the most naturally-gifted and clean-hitting ball strikers in the game and have met one another three times previously with the Frenchman holding a 3-2 advantage.
The first meeting came way back in 2006 in Toronto when Gasquet won 6-4, 6-1. Gasquet again won the next year in Tokyo 7-6, 6-3 but then Berdych claimed the next two firstly in 2010 in Monaco 6-2, 6-0 and then at last year's Australian Open 6-2, 7-6, 6-2.
The Frenchman went ahead in their head-to-head battles later in the year in Rome with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 triumph.
Neither man has lost in singles action this week either at Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIV.
Berdych is in Perth for the third time and is having an outstanding week.
The world No. 7 and Wimbledon finalist of 2010 beat Bulgaria's young gun Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 on Monday, world No. 8 American Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday and then Denmark's Frederik Nielsen on 6-1, 6-3 on Friday.
Gasquet is making his debut in Perth and has been in superb form beating China's Wu Di 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday, Australia's Lleyton Hewitt 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 on Tuesday night and then Spain's Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday.
With such in-form and talented players on both teams desperate to win a Hyundai Hopman Cup title for their nation, the Final of the 24th tournament inside Perth's Burswood Dome looms as a classic battle.
Petra Kvitova reacts after her 7-5, 6-1 win over France's Marion Bartoli in their women's final match at the Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012.
Final Womens Wrap - Kvitova gives Czechs lead
World No. 2 Petra Kvitova has given the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead to start the Hyundai Hopman Cup Final inside Perth's Burswood Dome by beating France's Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-1.
The victory for Kvitova over Bartoli took an hour and-a-half and was the world No. 2's fourth straight women's singles win of the week in her first trip to Perth to partner Tomas Berdych to form the Czech Republic team.
Following wins over the USA's Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova and Denmark's world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Kvitova entered the Final in hot form but so did France's Bartoli.
The world No. 9 Frenchwoman might have lost to China's Li Na on Saturday, but then scored superbly impressive wins after that in her encounters with Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova and Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues.
That set up an enthralling contest to open the Final of the 24th edition of the Hyundai Hopman Cup, and the first set certainly delivered.
Games remained on serve until it was Bartoli who got the upper hand by taking a game off Kvitova's serve to go up 4-3. She then consolidated to lead 5-3, but the reigning Wimbledon champion hit back to win the last three games of the set to win it 7-5 in 59 minutes.
That gave the Czech the confidence to go on with the job and she cruised through the second set in 30 minutes, winning it 6-1.
"It was a brilliant first match and I am happy that I won and we lead 1-0. Marion played here very well and she improved a lot in the off season and I played much better than in matches against her before," Kvitova said.
"I play more aggressive on the return (in the second set). Marion had a more tough serve and it was more pressure on my side and I just wanted to try every ball from my side.
"I don’t think that I will be relaxed (for the men’s). Sometimes it’s tough to watch the matches and now Tomas will have a very tough match against Gasquet but he has a 1-0 and he can play more relaxed than Richard and I believe in Tomas."
The Final now turns to the men's singles with Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych looking to secure his country's second Hyundai Hopman Cup up against France's Richard Gasquet. Neither man has lost this week in singles action, though, so it should be a terrific contest in the Burswood Dome.
Tomas Berdych reacts with a ball after beating France's Richard Gasquet 7-6, 6-4 during the Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012
Final Wrap - Czech Republic wins second Hopman Cup
The Czech Republic has won the Hyundai Hopman Cup for the second time with top seeds Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych going right through the week unbeaten in singles ending with the Final inside the Burswood Dome on Saturday against France's Marion Bartoli and Richard Gasquet.
World No. 2 Kvitova finished off her outstanding week and debut in Perth by beating world No. 9 Frenchwoman Bartoli 7-5, 6-1 in the women's singles to give the Czechs a winning start and then the seventh ranked Berdych finished the job beating former world No. 7 Gasquet 7-6, 6-4.
It is the Czech Republic's second Hopman Cup title after Jana Novotna and Petr Korda won the sixth tournament in 1994 by beating Germany's Anke Huber and Bernd Karbacher in the Final.
Now in the nation's eighth appearance at the Hyundai Hopman Cup, Kvitova and Berdych have added their names to the list of champions and also made the Czech Republic just the sixth country to win the Cup at least twice along with the USA (six times), Slovak Republic (three), Spain (three), Switzerland (two) and Germany (two).
It has been an outstanding week in Perth for the Czech pair who now both have every reason to have confidence of contending for the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne at the Australian Open.
Kvitova is fresh off an amazing 2011 that included a Wimbledon crown, the Fed Cup and being the ITF World Champion and WTA Player of the Year, and now her 2012 has got off to an outstanding start.
This week she has beaten defending American Hopman Cup champion Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova, world No. 1 from Denmark Caroline Wozniacki and then in the Final France's Bartoli.
"It was a really good match (against Wozniacki) but today I played much better against Marion and it’s always tough to play with someone at the top," Kvitova said.
"It’s really good to win at the beginning of the season and of course I have to say thank you to Tomas because without him we wouldn’t win.
"You played really unbelievable and it was an honour to play with you. And of course with our team, with them it’s always really fun. It’s really enjoyable in Perth and of course I have to say thank you to Hopman Cup."
Berdych was playing for the Czech Republic at the Hopman Cup for the third time and also went through undefeated in his men's singles matches with American Mardy Fish, Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, Denmark's Frederik Nielsen and then France's Gasquet in the Final.
"It couldn’t be better, it was an extremely great week and first of all I need to congratulate my partner. She won all she can and I just add some winnings again and now we can be standing here and have such a nice trophy so it was really good week," Berdych said.
"I think it was possibly the best Final that could come of those two Groups and we are happy for that. We would like to congratulate them as well to get the Final and wish them both the best of luck for the rest of the season, for the Australian Open and all of the weeks. I think everybody enjoyed it, we had the best time on court and I hope the people liked it."
France also had a tremendous week in Perth, though, as Bartoli and Gasquet got their nation into the Hopman Cup Final for the second time, but the French are still chasing that elusive first title.
Bartoli might have lost tight encounters with Kvitova and world No. 5 Li Na, but did beat Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova and Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues impressively.
Gasquet has this week shown the form that saw him reach the world No. 7 ranking in 2007 by beating Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, Spain's Fernando Verdasco and China's Wu Di.
The attendance for Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIV, which will be the last at Perth's Burswood Dome before the tournament moves to the new Perth Arena, was 8365 to take the total for the week to an impressive 72,776.