With an impressive win yesterday over Italian female singles French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone, 6-4, 6-4, a day after a gritty, veteran win over French junior girls Champion Kristina Mladenovic of France, the United States is sitting pretty in its bid for 9th Hopman Cup finals appearances in Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIII. John Isner, American giant and world #19, hasn’t done so badly himself, scoring tight wins over Wimbledon rival Nicolas Mahut, and yesterday, over Potito Starace of Italy, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4. Isner showed much grit, as he was outplayed by the crafty Italian for much of the match, and gutted out 2 breaks while down 3-1 in the third, taking 5 of the last 6 games for the win.
Though the Americans dropped the mixed component last night to the Italian team 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (3) in a very entertaining match–how wild is it to watch Francesca Schiavone returning John Isner’s serve–it was the first match they have lost in Perth, and sit atop group B with 2 team wins, a 5 and 1 match record, an impressive set record of 11-5. Tonight the Americans can clinch a finals berth, even if they are swept in all 3 matches by the British team of Andy Murray and Laura Robson, who are already eliminated from finals consideration. The Americans will make the final, it seems, as long as the Italians who now sit with 3 match wins, do not have a total higher than the US, who currently sit at 5 wins. An equal number of match wins and group wins for America and Italy would see the Americans play for the title since America defeated Italy head to head.
Winning a 6th Hopman Cup will be a tall order for the Americans though, who are likely to face the ace Serbian squad of world #3 Novak Djokovic, and former French champ and world #1 Ana Ivanovic, yet to lose a match of any sort between them so far at this year’s Hopman Cup. Should the Serbs lose out to Belgium in all 3 of their matches in session 9, the United States or less likely, Italy, would face Belgium, led by Justine Henin, in the final on January 8th, 2011.
In pretty big but separate women’s tennis development in Brisbane, it would seem that Jarmila Groth’s upset route over countrywoman Sam Stosur will have perhaps a dramatic affect on the women’s draw in Melbourne. It was announced today that Stosur’s 6-2, 6-4 loss to Groth has dislodged her from the 4th seed at the Australian Open, and that American Venus Williams had risen from what would have been the 5th seed to the 4 seed due to the Groth victory.
Tune in Thursday evening to TTC for more live Hopman Cup action.