France may have had the marathon woman, but Poland had Jerzy the giant as they powered their way through to the Hopman Cup final.
Alize Cornet produced her trademark fighting spirit to upset world No.5 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 2-6 7-5 in 161 minutes to give France a 1-0 lead in Friday’s tie.
Poland only needed to win one rubber to secure their spot in the final, and that was achieved when 203 cm Jerzy Janowicz beat Benoit Paire 6-4 7-6 (6).
Awaiting them in the decider is the top-seeded US team of Serena Williams and John Isner, who tuned up for the title bout with a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic on Thursday night.
Cornet lost to Radwanska in last summer’s Hopman Cup final, but she made sure history didn’t repeat by winning an epic third set that lasted 73 minutes at Perth Arena on Friday.
“I’m used to the long matches. The WTA call me the marathon woman,” Cornet said.
“I think I deserve my nickname.
“I’m used to playing long matches, and it’s because I fight all the time. I never give up.”
France needed to win the tie 3-0 in order to have a chance of reaching Saturday’s final, but those hopes were dashed by the big-serving Janowicz.
Paire vented his frustrations at 2-1 down in the second set by destroying his racquet with a double smash on the court.
The incident sparked some life in the contest, but Janowicz finally sealed the win on his fifth match point of the tiebreak.
Janowicz was forced out of last summer’s Hopman Cup because of a foot injury, and the world No.43 hopes he can make up for lost time by teaming with Radwanska to win Saturday’s final.
“Even with not my best tennis at this moment, we are still in the final, so that’s a good sign for Melbourne,” Janowicz said.
“I’ve never played John, so I know I’ll have to be ready on the return.
“He’s also really tall. He has a huge serve and a huge baseline. I hope I’m going to win.”
Williams will be aiming to become the first person to win the Hopman Cup title three times, while Isner is gunning for his second crown.
Janowicz said Radwanska would be the one to call the shots during the mixed doubles encounter against Isner and Williams on Saturday.
“She does everything. I can just relax and wait for the final result,” Janowicz joked.
“She’s telling me where to serve, what to serve, how to play. That’s why we’re doing well.”