Fri, Jan 03, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Canada stay in hunt for maiden Hopman Cup final spot

AFP, PERTH, Australia

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard hits a forehand shot against Italy’s Flavia Pennetta during their women’s singles match at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

A wrist injury for Italian Flavia Pennetta helped Canada stay in the hunt for a maiden Hopman Cup final appearance in Perth yesterday.

With the Australian Open just more than a week away, Pennetta was forced to withdraw from her singles match against Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard when trailing 4-0, ending Italy’s hopes in the tournament. She immediately ruled herself out of the remainder of the event.

The Canadians won the tie 3-0, after Milos Raonic beat Andreas Seppi in straight sets in the men’s singles and the mixed doubles was forfeited.

They need Australia to beat Poland in yesterday’s evening tie to stand any chance of reaching the final in only their second appearance at the Hopman Cup. Poland could still qualify even if they are defeated, depending on results in the three matches.

Pennetta had an operation on the same wrist, the right wrist, in 2012, but is confident the latest setback is nothing more than an inflammation.

The world No. 31, who said the wrist was sore when she awoke yesterday and was close to withdrawing before the start of the match, had strapping applied after the third game, but the injury was clearly affecting her serve and forehand.

The 31-year-old Italian is still expecting to play in Hobart next week to complete her preparations for the year’s opening Grand Slam, starting on Jan. 13 in Melbourne.

“It’s the wrist that I had the operation on ... Sometimes it gives me some problem, I hope it’s nothing too serious,” Pennetta said. “I was thinking maybe with some warm-up it would get better, but it did not.”

“I will have some treatment. Maybe I won’t play for one or two days to help, because I think it’s more something like inflammation, it’s not like a tear or ligaments,” she added.

Bouchard said she was disappointed that the match was abbreviated, as she felt she was playing well.

In the men’s singles, world No. 11 Raonic overpowered the out-of-sorts Seppi 6-2, 6-4.

Seppi, ranked 25th in the world, retired from his first match at the tournament due to illness and lost both his subsequent singles outings in disappointing fashion.

Raonic was a shock loser to the 288th-ranked Grzegorz Panfil on Sunday and was pleased to put that result behind him.

“It was much better,” he said of his match against Seppi. “It was day and night pretty much. This time I tried to take the initiative, the other night I didn’t play my own game.”

In the evening match on Wednesday, the French pairing of Alize Cornet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga closed in on a final berth with a 2-1 win over the US in Group B.

Unbeaten after their first two ties, the French only need to beat winless Spain today to advance to tomorrow’s final.

The French clinched the tie in the mixed-doubles rubbers, after the singles matches were split.

Cornet and Tsonga edged past Sloane Stephens and John Isner 6-1, 5-7, 10-5 in a match tiebreak.

France have never won the Hopman Cup, having twice finished runners-up.

In the women’s singles, rising star Stephens powered past the 27th-ranked Cornet, 7-5, 6-0.

The first set was extremely closely fought, with Cornet recovering from an early break to level at 5-5 after Stephens was unable to serve out the set.

However, Cornet was then broken in her last four service games of the match as the 20-year-old Stephens took total control.

Stephens was happy with the way she coped with the defensive skills of Cornet.

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