Tennis: Australia down France at Hopman Cup

PERTH, Australia (AFP) – Local favourite Matthew Ebden’s come-from-behind win ensured Australia beat France on the opening day of the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Saturday (Dec 29).

Ebden came from a set down to beat the higher ranked Lucas Pouille, as he and Ashleigh Barty beat the French duo of Pouille and Alize Cornet 2-1 in their Group A tie.

World number 15 Barty had given Australia the early ascendancy with a polished straight-sets win over Cornet, a former Hopman Cup winner.

Ebden then secured the tie for the host nation by coming from a set down to beat Pouille, who went cold after a blistering start.

Ranked 46th in the world, Ebden was playing in front of his hometown crowd and turned the match by snaring the second set tie-breaker after looking likely to be blown away by Pouille early.

Ebden raced to a 6-2 lead in the tiebreaker and then held off the 32nd-ranked Frenchman to level the match.

He continued that good form into the third set, claiming two breaks of serve to win 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

Ebden was delighted to secure the win in front of family and friends.

“It means so much to be out here playing,” he said.

“There wasn’t much rhythm until the second set, I was able to get a little bit more aggressive.”

Barty is Australia’s top-ranked singles player and had too much class for the cagey Cornet, winning 7-5, 6-3 against the world number 45.

France won the dead mixed doubles rubber in straight sets.

Earlier, unheralded Brit Cameron Norrie produced the first shock result of the tournament by beating star Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas to inspire Britain to a 2-1 victory in the opening tie.

Norrie secured the biggest scalp of his career to upset the exciting Tsitsipas in the opening men’s singles to put his team on the way to victory, winning 7-6 (10-8), 6-4.

Tsitsipas is one of the hottest young talents in world tennis, having shot from 91st in the world at the start of the year to his current lofty heights of 15th.

He beat superstar Novak Djokovic earlier this year and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, but looked rusty in his first outing of the new season, although he showed flashes of his best form and held set points in the first set.

The left-handed Norrie said it was one of his best wins.

“He came up with some big shots, but so did I and managed to hold my nerve,” he said.

“The second set I stayed solid and played well at the end.”

In the women’s singles, Maria Sakkari squared the tie with a three-set win over Katie Boulter, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2.

In the deciding mixed doubles, played under the match tiebreak format, the Greeks had multiple match points, but it was the Brits who prevailed in three sets, 4-3 (5/0), 3-4 (2/5), 4-3 (5/4).

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