Wed, Jan 07, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Bouchard, unknown Pavlasek cause upsets in Perth

Reuters and AFP, PERTH, Australia

Eugenie Bouchard of Canada yesterday returns to Serena Williams of the US in their women’s singles match on day three of the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia.

Photo: AFP

Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard swatted aside an out-of-sorts Serena Williams 6-2, 6-1 at the Hopman Cup in Perth yesterday.

The US world No. 1’s body language throughout the contest suggested she would rather have been anywhere else than on the blue hardcourts in Western Australia.

An on-court espresso helped spark her into life as she overcame a first-set bagel to beat Italy’s Flavia Pennetta 0-6, 6-3, 6-0 on Monday in the round-robin mixed team event, but nothing could help bring her out of yesterday’s malaise.

Sluggish footwork and uncharacteristically slow serves allowed Bouchard to break the 33-year-old with ease as the Canadian bounced back from a 6-0, 6-4 thrashing by Czech Lucie Safarova in her opener.

Williams had complained of jet lag following her efforts against Pennetta, but looked in good spirits as she teamed up with John Isner to win their mixed doubles against the Italians for a 3-0 whitewash.

Williams showed flashes of her usual brilliance against Bouchard as she went for her shots, but never had the consistency, or the fight, to beat the Canadian.

Whether it was jet lag, illness or something else, world No. 6 Bouchard did not care as she notched a first win over the 18-time Grand Slam champion in the warmup for the year’s first major, the Australian Open, later this month.

Isner was next up against Canada’s Vasek Pospisil before the quartet meet in the mixed double.

Elsewhere in Perth, the Czech Republic beat Italy 3-0 yesterday, with Safarova beating Pennetta 7-5, 6-3 and little-known youngster Pavlasek stunning Fabio Fognini 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 as the Czech Republic remained unbeaten with a 3-0 clean sweep of Italy.

The 15th-ranked Safarova notched her second win over a higher-ranked opponent in as many matches in the women’s singles to give the Czech side the lead, before the 239th-ranked Pavlasek fought back from a set down to beat the world No. 19.

The Italian side forfeited the dead mixed doubles rubber, with Fognini ruling himself out due to a heat-related illness.

Few expected Pavlasek to deliver the knockout blow to Italy’s hopes in the tournament against the cagey Fognini, with the Czech never having played in an ATP event.

“It was the biggest win in my career and it’s just amazing that I can play with the top players and I was happy for it,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve ever played someone in the top 20.”

The results mean Italy are out of Hopman Cup contention, having also lost their first tie against the US. With two wins from two ties, the Czechs are likely to have to beat the US pairing of Williams and Isner tomorrow to reach Saturday’s final.

In another Australian Open warm-up event, top seed Caroline Wozniacki and former world No. 1 Venus Williams ensured the Auckland Classic organizers’ dream final remained on track after both recorded comfortable victories in their first-round matches yesterday.

However, two other Grand Slam champions packed their bags: Fifth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, a US Open and French Open champion, was beaten by Lucie Hradecka 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 in a marathon 2 hour, 25 minute match on center court, while 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone was beaten 6-4, 7-5 by Urszula Radwanska.

There were no such upsets for Wozniacki and Venus Williams, as the Dane dispatched Israeli qualifier Julia Glushko 6-3, 6-2 while the third-seeded American was imperious in her 6-1, 6-0 demolition of Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova.

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