By Dave Lindsay
Spain has made it two wins from as many appearances with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 victory over France in the mixed doubles.
The Spanish pair of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Fernando Verdasco were in total control from start to finish and maintained their unbeaten Hyundai Hopman Cup record.
Verdasco rebounded from a disappointing loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the men’s singles to be the dominant player on court combining solid ground strokes with wonderful touch at the net.
Mathilde Johnansson struggled throughout the clash, losing her serve on three occasions and battling to handle the swinging Verdasco serve.
The Spaniards recovered from an early break against Medina Garrigues to immediately break back and when Johansson produced two double faults in the eighth game the momentum was with the number four seeds.
Johansson surrendered her serve again in the third game of the second set, the only break of the set, and Spain were well on their way to victory.
Earlier in the night Tsonga gave France a perfect start, disposing of Verdasco in straight sets, before Medina Garrigues kept Spain in the contest, breezing past Johansson 6-3 6-2.
France next take to the court on Tuesday night up against the highly fancied USA combination while Spain’s next clash is also against the Americans on Thursday in a tie that appears likely to decide the finalists from Group B.
Spain levels tie with France
It’s all down to the mixed as Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues quelled the shot-making of Frenchwoman Mathilde Johansson to level the tie at 1-1 with a 6-3 6-2 win at Perth Arena tonight.
The match started evenly with both players holding serve in the early part of the opening set. Neither contender seemed prepared to show their hand as both played it safe until Medina Garrigues reeled off seven consecutive points that yielded her not only her own service game but brought up three break points on Johansson’s serve, the third of which she converted.
The change in fortune for the Spaniard came about largely from some undisciplined play from her opponent who seemed to be losing patience. In trying to be the aggressor, Johansson regularly found herself handing easy points to her opponent.
A second break for Medina Garrigues shortly after gave her the opening set 6-3.
Buoyed by her lead, Medina Garrigues promptly broke Johansson in the second game. Undeterred, the Frenchwoman continued to go for her shots but her radar was slightly off today – she racked up almost three times as many unforced errors than winners for the match.
For the next four games breaks were traded like footy cards in the schoolyard. First it was the Spaniard who looked to be in control of the match, but just as it seemed like she would run away with the match, Johansson would claw back a break.
Medina Garrigues finally ended the run of breaks as she held serve to consolidate the advantage and further frustrate her opponent. And the more frustrated Johansson became the quicker games slipped through her fingers and soon she found herself on the wrong side of the 6-2 second set scoreline.
The live mixed doubles rubber is up next.