After a close call in their earlier group match againstFrance in the Hopman Cup, it was the turn of Great Britain to suffer theanguish of defeat this time around in the decisive mixed doubles match, as the strongPolish duo of Agnieszka Radwanska and Jerzy Janowicz overcame them 2 rubbers to1 in Perth. With Andy Murray’s partner in the event, Heather Watson, manyranking places below her female counterparts in the competition, the likelihoodis that each tie Great Britain play will come down to the mixed doubles todetermine the overall outcome and so it proved again.

The twenty-two year-old Watson faced Radwanska in theopening rubber in the women’s singles and was outclassed to the margin of astraight sets defeat, 6-3 6-1, to leave Murray needing to win his men’s singlematch against the powerful, Janowicz to keep the tie alive. The Polish woman isseeded five in the world compared to Watson’s fiftieth ranking, so was alwaysthe firm favourite to take the match, and eventually succumbed in a little overone hour of game time. Watson battled resolutely against her more illustriousrival, especially in the first set, but Radwanska ran away with the second setas the British lady’s error count mounted.

World number six, Murray was as solid as ever in thisevent after a slow start to record a 6-2 6-4 victory in his singles match andset up the decider against the Poles. He lost his serve early on in the firstset, but then a run of nine winning games in succession eased him through therest of the match. The British pair could not recreate the heroics of the correspondingmixed- doubles match against the French though and suffered a straight setsreversal 6-4 6-4.

Poland now hold a dominant position in the group, having beatenAustralia in their previous group match, so remain undefeated and in ‘pole’position to qualify for Saturday’s final. As only the group winners progress,it seems unlikely that the plucky British pairing will maintain their interestin this year’s competition beyond their final group match with Australia onFriday, but it has been an useful work out in the tough Australian conditions(especially temperature-wise) for them, especially for Murray, ahead of theAustralian Open. They retain a small interest in the group, although theexpectation would be that Poland would continue their winning run against theFrench in their final group game to clinch their qualification to the final,repeating their feats from twelve months ago.

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