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Italy breaks through for 2-1 victory

Update 4.45 pm. Italy has defeated Germany 2-1, clinching victory after claiming the see-sawing live mixed doubles rubber.
2 January 2013, by Hopman Cup

Italy has defeated Germany 2-1, clinching victory after claiming the see-sawing live mixed doubles rubber.

Francesca Schiavone and Andreas Seppi combined better in the mixed to defeat Tatjana Malek and Tommy Haas in straight sets, 6-4 7-5.

It was always going to be a tough ask for the German duo who only met properly for the first time today following Malek’s early-morning arrival.

Despite the disadvantage, they put up a strong showing and certainly had their chances throughout a match made up of two distinctly different sets.

The first set featured just one break, which came in the first game when the Italians broke Malek’s serve. It proved to be enough as Italy took the set 6-4.

The second set, however, boasted six consecutive breaks of serve before both teams steadied momentarily. It didn’t last long.

Malek was broken for the fourth time in the match in the 12th game, giving Schiavone the chance to serve out the match for Italy, which she did.

It’s Italy’s first win after falling 2-1 to top seeds Serbia on Monday. For Germany, it’s their second consecutive loss, which makes it impossible for them to qualify for Saturday’s final.

The Italians will now prepare for their final Group A round-robin match against Australia on Thursday night, while the Germans will be desperate to get on the board in their final round-robin match against top seeds Germany on Friday night.

Schiavone back from the brink

In a match of three distinct parts, Francesca Schiavone has drawn Italy level with Germany after pulling off a three-set win over recent arrival Tatjana Malak

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Schiavone came back from a set down to outlast Malek 3-6 6-3 6-3 at Perth Arena on Wednesday.

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“She played great,” said Schiavone after the match. “Three love for me in the first set the she a little bit played better.”

Early on Malek looked like a woman who was playing on only a few hours sleep. And she was.

The replacement German arrived in the country at around 2 am this morning, less than 12 hours later she was doing battle with a former world No.4 and Grand Slam champion.

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Schiavone, who was blown away 6-0 by Ana Ivanovic in the opening set of their match, came out firing early. For the first three games she did as she wanted, moving Malek around the court like a kid with a toy car.

And Malek looked powerless to stop it. But in the fourth game Malek, much to the delight of the Perth Arena crowd, held serve.

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What came next, few would have predicted. She reeled off the next five games in a row to take the opening set 6-3, stunning not only the assembled crowd but also her opponent, Schiavone.

Nothing seemed to go right for Schiavone. Her attacking sensibilities were sound, but the execution was not what the world No.35 had in mind. Wide, long, into the net – balls were flying everywhere but their intended target as Malek took control. On top of that Schiavone was suffering from a stomach bug, she revealed after the match.

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In contrast the German suddenly looked like she’d been in Perth practising all week. Booming forehand winners started to hit their mark and now it was Malek who looked to have Schiavone on a string.

Malek’s good form continued early in the second set. Schiavone didn’t do herself any favours by running around her forehand, which just served to open up the court for Malek, who gleefully smacked the ball into the vast expanses offered up by the Italian.

Even a simple swinging forehand volley proved too difficult for Schiavone who blasted the ball into the net from point blank range to allow Malek to hold serve and take a 3-2 lead in the second set. At this point a famous win for Malek looked to be on the cards.

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But two games later the match reached it’s third act. Some dogged work from Schiavone brought up a rare break point, which she converted. But she wasn’t done yet, another break late in the set and Schiavone had levelled the match at a set apiece.

By this stage Malek was beginning to look hot and bothered. With no chance to acclimatise to her surroundings and Schiavone making fewer errors, the German, once again, found herself on the back foot.

A break for Schiavone in the fourth game of the deciding set was enough to set up victory and earn the Italian her first singles win of 2013.

“Now we have to think about doubles and try to catch this point,” said Schiavone.

Earlier Tommy Haas put Germany 1-0 in front with a tight straight-sets win over Andreas Seppi. The match will now be decided by the mixed doubles rubber.

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