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France claims Hopman Cup victory over Poland

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FRANCE has claimed its first Hopman Cup title with a 2-1 victory over Poland in the final.

The deciding mixed doubles was somewhat of an anti-climax though, with Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Alize Cornet beating Grzegorz Panfil and Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0 6-2 at Perth Arena.

After the men's and women's singles games, so much more was expected.

Earlier, world number 288 Panfil surprised most of the 10,005 tennis fans at Perth Arena when he took a set from world number 10 Tsonga. However, the Frenchman still won 6-3 3-6 6-3.

He could have made things so much easier on himself, having converted just two of 15 break points for the match - and none from seven in the second set that he lost.

Cornet, ranked 27 in the world, also pushed world number 5 Radwanska to three sets.


The women's clash was the best of the tournament though.

After Radwanska won the first set comfortably and although she failed to convert one of five break points to go 4-3 up, she looked control in the second.

But as Cornet had done so many times over the 26th Hopman Cup, she dug in and found a way to draw level.

Radwanska served for the match at 5-4 and even earned a point to claim the victory.

However, Cornet finally converted a break point, her seventh for the game, to draw level at 5-5.

The French woman also overcame a time violation from umpire James Keothavong after she was struggling to breathe at the end of a point that included 35 shots.

Although Cornet won the tiebreaker 9-7 to claim the 80-minute set, she was unable to maintain the pressure in the last and lost the match 6-3 6-7 (9) 6-2 in 2h33m.

The mixed doubles reached no great heights and was over in just 47 minutes.

Although Poland was the top seed for the tournament, the rankings were put out before Panfil replaced world number 21 Jerzy Janowicz in the line-up.

For Radwanska, the event was a great warm-up for the Sydney International, where she is the top seed, and for the Australian Open.

For Panfil, the $90,000 he pocketed for being runner-up almost doubled his career earnings.

He'll head to Melbourne now where he is hopeful of a getting a start in the Australian Open qualifying tournament that starts on Wednesday.

The French team finally gets on the trophy after 20 attempts.

Twice before they have made finals and Cornet so desperately wanted to be the first to get the red, white and blue on the honour board.

She also heads to Sydney, where she will play a qualifier in the opening round and then world number 5 Petra Kvitova in the second, if she is successful. Kvitova beat Cornet during this Hopman Cup in three tough sets.

After claiming the $150,000 (per person) winners cheque, Tsonga will head to Melbourne to warm up for the Open. He won't play another prelude tournament.

He stated several times during the Hopman Cup that he wanted to be one of the best players in the world and his performances in Perth this week would suggest that he isn't far from getting there.