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France wins its first Hopman Cup

4 January 2014, by AAP

World No.10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga tuned up for the Australian Open in grand style by guiding France to the Hyundai Hopman Cup title at Perth Arena.

France won the event for the first time, beating Poland 2-1 in a thrilling final in front of more than 10,000 fans.

Tsonga overcame a second-set scare to beat Grzegorz Panfil 6-3 3-6 6-3 in the men’s singles before world No.5 Agnieszka Radwanska levelled the tie with a drama-filled 6-3 6-7 (9-7) 6-2 win over Alize Cornet.

> Gallery: Best of HHC 2014 final

Tsonga then dominated proceedings in the deciding mixed doubles to lift France to a 6-0 6-2 triumph in just 47 minutes, with Cornet jumping into his arms once they secured victory.

“I’m really happy to win today,” Tsonga said. “It’s always good to hold the trophy.”

Cornet described the title as one of the best highlights of her career.

“It feels great. I’m very happy that we made history today and France finally won the Hopman Cup,” Cornet said.

“I think we deserved it. I’m happy I gave a good show to the crowd.”

Earlier, Cornet looked down and out in her singles match after losing the first set and going 5-3 down in the second.

The world No.27 managed to save a match point, but she broke out in tears a few points later when a series of long-winded rallies left her struggling to breathe.

> Watch the latest Hopman Cup videos

Despite Cornet being on the verge of collapsing, match umpire James Keothabong gave her a time violation.

“I was trying to tell the chair umpire not to give me a time violation,” Cornet said. “I was like ‘I can’t breathe’. He didn’t see it unfortunately.”

Cornet battled on to win the 80-minute second set in a tiebreak.

But she had no energy left for the deciding set, with Radwanska securing the epic win in 153 minutes.

Tsonga’s failure to convert any of his seven break points in the second set of the men’s singles rubber came back to haunt him as world No.288 Panfil converted his sole break point.

The 28-year-old was filthy on himself for missing those chances, but he made good in the third set as he secured the win in 100 minutes.

Panfil was only called up for the Hopman Cup after world No.21 Jerzy Janowicz pulled out with injury.

The 26-year-old had racked up just $A154,294 in ATP career earnings before the mixed-teams tournament.

But he will walk away with the biggest pay cheque of his career, a cool $90,000.