After his victory at last week’s exhibition event in AbuDhabi, Andy Murray was back in action yesterday in the mixed team event, theHopman Cup in Perth, leading the two person team to a  group victory over the French. His femalecompatriot in the GB team is Guernsey’s Heather Watson, who found life toughagainst Alize Cornet, losing in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. Murray’s two set winover Benoit Paire in the men’s singles, combined with the pair’s hard-foughtthree set success in the mixed doubles (6-4, 2-6, 10-8) clinched their overall winin their first group match. He will have been pleased with his form so far inAustralia, with the high temperatures of concern to the players (it hit ablistering 44C yesterday) but probably good acclimatisation for the forthcomingAustralian Open later this month.

The Hopman Cup competition is split into two groups, witheach nation playing a round robin format to decide the group winners, who thenface each other in the final on Saturday. Great Britain face France, Poland andAustralia in their group, with the remaining matches due to be played on Wednesdayand Friday. The other group features the United States (including world numberone, Serena Williams and John Isner), Italy (Flavia Pennetta and Fabio Fognini),Canada (Eugenie Bouchard and Vasek Pospisil) and the Czech Republic (LucieSafarova and Adam Pavlasek).

Watson in particular is likely to find her matches in theevent extremely challenging in the best of three rubbers’ ties, given thestandard of the women competing this week. Not only had she to face Cornet yesterday,but then she moves on to meet Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, with Australia’sCasey Dellacqua waiting in the wings. Not that Murray can expect it all his ownway when he plays the big serving Pole, Jerzy Janowicz tomorrow, nor homefavourite Matt Ebden in the final group match.

There was a moment of hilarity in the othergroup, when America’s Williams asked the umpire if she was allowed to order anespresso when changing ends in her match against Italy’s Pennetta. As she waslosing the first set 5-0 at the time, she clearly figured that the pick- me- upmight give her a much needed boost. She was duly brought the hot drink andalthough it did not change the outcome of that set (she lost it 6-0), Williamsturned the game around in the second set and went on to a 0-6, 6-3, 6-0victory. It also proved to be crucial turning point in the overall tie againstItaly, as USA wound up 3-0 victors. Like Murray, Williams sees the competitionas good preparation for her challenge for the Grand Slam, as she seeks the 19thsingles’ Slam of her illustrious Tennis career. 

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