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French Finalists have blast on Cup debut

“I really loved my time in here and obviously playing for the first time at the Hyundai Hopman Cup was really a great pleasure – especially with a great player like Richard. He’s as you know a very talented player, but also extremely nice person, so thank you.”
10 January 2012, by Hopman Cup

French duo Marion Bartoli and Richard Gasquet had an outstanding week in Perth at Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIV before running into the might of the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych in the Final.

Both Bartoli and Gasquet arrived at the Burswood Dome as the No. 2 seeds for the tournament as they tried to win the Hopman Cup for France for the first time, and all week long the pair proved themselves the dominant force in Group B.

France was in action of the opening day ending up winning over China’s Li Na and Wu Di two rubbers to one, after bouncing back from Bartoli going down in three tough sets to the world No. 5 Li.

That would be their last hiccup, though, with both winning their singles matches with Australia’s Jarmila Gajdosova and Lleyton Hewitt on Tuesday night, as well as finishing it off in the mixed doubles.

Then with a spot in the Final on the line on Thursday against Spain, Bartoli and Gasquet dominated their quality opponents Anabel Medina Garrigues and Fernando Verdasco to book a spot in Saturday’s decider.

That ended up being against world No. 2 Kvitova and No. 7 Berdych, and while the Czechs claimed their second Hopman Cup title, it was the French who won over many of the fans inside the Burswood Dome and watching globally on television.

Bartoli, the world No. 9 and a former Wimbledon finalist, arrived in Perth to prepare for the Australian summer in mid-December and it certainly paid off with thumping wins over Gajdosova and Medina Garrigues, and strong showings against two top five women in Kvitova and Li Na.

She loved her time in Perth and enjoyed partnering with her friend of a long-time Gasquet to form the French team.

“It was my first time in Perth and I had a blast,” Bartoli said.

“I really loved my time in here and obviously playing for the first time at the Hyundai Hopman Cup was really a great pleasure – especially with a great player like Richard. He’s as you know a very talented player, but also extremely nice person, so thank you.”

Bartoli has no question whatsoever that her first appearance at the Hyundai Hopman Cup will provide her with the ideal preparation now for Sydney and then the Australian Open.

“I think it’s really the perfect preparation and I wish to Petra and Tomas nothing but the best of luck for the Aussie Open, and to Richard as well,” Bartoli said.

“That’s why every single year you have the No. 1 player in the world in here because it’s just an absolutely perfect tournament.

“So thank you so much for organising this kind of event. It means a lot to us that we had a packed house and I’m so looking forward to being back next year and hopefully to get a title.”

Gasquet is a former world No. 7 and during his week in Perth the 26-year-old showed that he well and truly belongs back up amongst the top 10.

His ranking might currently be No. 19, but he is one of the best ball strikers in the game and his one-handed backhand could very well be the best in the world right now.

With terrific wins over Hewitt, Verdasco and Wu Di, a tight loss in the Final to Berdych and ensuring he remains unbeaten in mixed doubles in his career, Gasquet had a terrific time on his debut at the Hyundai Hopman Cup.

“But first I would like to thank Marion for this week, she’s very, very nice. For sure, it was wonderful for us to come,” Gasquet said.

“We had a nice New Year’s Eve, nice first time in Perth. We’re happy, we made the Final. Nice crowd, everything was perfect. We enjoy it so we hope to come into the Tie and why not to win, but we had a play a good team.”