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

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

Watson in particular is likely to find her matches in the event extremely challenging in the best of three rubbers’ ties, given the standard 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’s Casey Dellacqua waiting in the wings. Not that Murray can expect it all his own way when he plays the big serving Pole, Jerzy Janowicz tomorrow, nor home favourite Matt Ebden in the final group match.

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

Don't miss our page on Facebook!
Click to read more