After a close call in their earlier group match against France in the Hopman Cup, it was the turn of Great Britain to suffer the anguish of defeat this time around in the decisive mixed doubles match, as the strong Polish duo of Agnieszka Radwanska and Jerzy Janowicz overcame them 2 rubbers to 1 in Perth. With Andy Murray’s partner in the event, Heather Watson, many ranking places below her female counterparts in the competition, the likelihood is that each tie Great Britain play will come down to the mixed doubles to determine the overall outcome and so it proved again.

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

World number six, Murray was as solid as ever in this event after a slow start to record a 6-2 6-4 victory in his singles match and set up the decider against the Poles. He lost his serve early on in the first set, but then a run of nine winning games in succession eased him through the rest of the match. The British pair could not recreate the heroics of the corresponding mixed- doubles match against the French though and suffered a straight sets reversal 6-4 6-4.

Poland now hold a dominant position in the group, having beaten Australia 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 interest in this year’s competition beyond their final group match with Australia on Friday, but it has been an useful work out in the tough Australian conditions (especially temperature-wise) for them, especially for Murray, ahead of the Australian Open. They retain a small interest in the group, although the expectation would be that Poland would continue their winning run against the French in their final group game to clinch their qualification to the final, repeating their feats from twelve months ago.

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