|Posted on January 6, 2012 at 11:00 PM|
Czech Republic pair ready for on-fire French duo
By Holly Johnsen | January 6, 2012
And then there were two. The Czech Republic cemented their spot in the Final of the 24th Hyundai Hopman Cup against France by defeating Denmark on Friday.
Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych came into the tournament seeded No. 1 and will now play Marion Bartoli and Richard Gasquet in the last ever Hopman Cup Final at the iconic Burswood Dome.
Both teams have had an extremely successful run. The Czechs have won all of their matches bar their Session 3 mixed doubles against Bulgaria while the French team have only lost the one singles match all week – when Bartoli went down in three tough sets to China’s world No. 5 Li Na.
Petra Kvitova has come up against the No. 9 ranked Marion Bartoli on two previous occasions - one in 2008 at Linz and another in 2011 at Eastbourne with both going Bartoli’s way in three sets.
"Unfortunately I have a bad record with her so hopefully the Final will be the match for me," Kvitova said.
"She is playing great here. I know she has a great serve and many hit many aces. She is playing as aggressive as me so we will see who will be first to get a win in the Final now."
On the men’s side Gasquet and Berdych have played a number of times with Gasquet leading the head-to-head count 3-2. Two of those encounters came in 2011 with each man taking one match each.
"Richard is in really good form and really good shape and I think he had quite enough time for preparation for the New Year and the new season. He’s looking strong as well in his three matches," Berdych said.
"I think it’s the best set up for the Final to play each other. If I just look at some matches before we played last year, I won in three sets.
"I’m expecting a really tough one. You cannot get any easy ones, not even in the Final so I’m looking for my best and we are going to try to be the two that’s going to bring the (Argyle diamond) balls with us."
Speaking of ‘those balls’, earlier in the week Bartoli expressed her desire for those famous Argyle Diamond Trophy tennis balls, but the Czech pair aren’t going to let them go to France without a fight.
"I want them too," Kvitova said.
"It’s all for two balls, so somebody will have to go without if I count right," Berdych laughed.
Berdych is looking to start 2012 in extremely good form if the past week has been anything to go by; he said of the three Hyundai Hopman Cup tournaments he has played in, this is his first year to start the off a year without illness.
"I’ve started twice here in Perth at the Hopman Cup, but both times I get sick and get some stomach problems and was not the best start for me," Berdych said.
"So this year for the third time and it’s way better. As you can see when I feel well then we both play good matches and good tennis and we are in the Final so far with still one match to go. We are looking forward to that. I have to say I’m feeling good and pretty much ready to start 2012."
As for world No. 2 ranked Kvitova, although she is unfazed going into 2012 having beaten the World No. 1, it can only show what a year she has in store for fresh off an incredible 2011.
"Maybe it was for you a really big match but I understand that people like to see the first and second (ranked) woman of the world play. I hope that the match was good for people and they liked it," Kvitova said.