Despite an unexpected loss to a fired-up Tommy Robredo in the final men’s singles match, Andy Murray otherwise performed very well at the Hyundai Hopman Cup 2010. Murray started the match strong, consistent with his top-five ranking relative to Robredo’s position as 16th in the world. However, Robredo raised his game several notches and achieved key breaks of serve to shift the momentum in the second set and force a third set. Robredo took the match for Spain with a final score of 1-6,6-4,6-3.
Immediately prior to this upset was an even more shocking upset when young Laura Robson of England, Andy’s partner, defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain in women’s singles. While Robson’s ranking is in the hundreds, veteran Sanchez is number 26 in the world, and yet the rookie dominated the match, winning 6-1,7-6. Both ladies are lefties, which added an unusual aspect to the contest and may have confused Sanchez, who seemed off balance and underperforming.
The results of the the singles matches (1-1) placed all hope of a finals victory for Great Britain on the outcome of the mixed doubles face-off between Robredo/Sanchez and Murray/Robson. The more experienced doubles players emerged victorious in straight sets (7-6-7-5), although Robson and Murray played well. Sanchez is ranked 6th in the world in women’s doubles.
Great Britain is on the tennis map these days courtesy of Scotsman Andy Murray, who finished up the 2009 season ranked 4th in the world in the ATP rankings. Murray thrilled the Australians by agreeing to launch his 2010 season by participating in the Hopman Cup, an international tournament (but not ATP Tour event) held in Perth every year since 1988. His partner for the event was Laura Robson, a 15-year-old rising star from England.
The Hopman Cup has a unique format in which pairs of players (one male, one female) from 8 nations compete against one another in men’s singles, women’s singles, and mixed doubles. Australia, Spain, and the U.S. have been consistent participants over the years, while Great Britain has fielded a team only three times (1989,’91,’92) and performed poorly.
Andy Murray’s star power and Laura Robson’s plucky determination led to the British team defeating pairs from Kazakhstan (2-1), Germany, (2-1), and Russia (2-1) to qualify to play against Spain in the final. Each of those 2-1 victories resulted from a Murray win and a Robson loss in the singles matches and a team victory in the mixed doubles match. Although neither Murray nor Robson have much doubles experience, the two were amazingly effective at doubles play in this tournament.
Fans of the British team were jubilant with the truly unexpected Robson win against Sanchez and undoubtedly assumed that another Murray win would follow, sealing the deal for an exciting British first Hopman Cup! Even if Murray floundered, the team had a winning record in mixed doubles through the week. Unfortunately, the Spanish team played as if this were Davis Cup competition and eked out the victory as much on heart as on skill (although they have no shortage of skill).
The U.S. was represented by John Isner and Melanie Oudin, both young up and comers with bright futures in the sport. Oudin is just 18, from Georgia, and ranked 48th in the world, while Isner, age 24, is also from the South, a former collegiate star, and currently ranked 33rd in men’s singles.
The Americans defeated Romania 3-0, but won against Australia only in the doubles and lost all three matches to the strong Spanish pair.
Throughout the 22-year history of the Hopman Cup, the U.S. has emerged victorious five times, the most of any single nation. With today’s third win, Spain ranks second, tied with the Slovak Republic, which won last year. The host nation, Australia, has won the event only once.
The eight teams competing in the 2010 Hopman Cup XXII are listed below:
Australia: Samantha Stosur and Lleyton Hewitt
Germany: Sabine Lisicki and Philipp Kohlschreiber
Great Britain: Laura Robson and Andy Murray
Kazakhstan: Yaroslava Shvedova and Andrey Golubev
Romania: Sorana Cirstea and Victor Hanescu
Russia: Elena Dementieva and Igor Andreev
Spain: Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Tommy Robredo
United States: Melanie Oudin and John Isner
Tennis Channel coverage of the Hyundai Hopman Cup Tournament
International Tennis Federation website
Hyundai Hopman Cup Tournament website
Andy Murray official website