Tennis: Poles off to perfect start at Hopman

PERTH (AFP) - The Poland pairing of Agnieszka Radwanska and Jerzy Janowicz made a perfect start to the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Sunday.

Up against the host nation, the Poles lived up to their status as one of the tournament favourites when they made a clean sweep of their tie to beat Australia 3-0, helped by an unfortunate injury to local Matthew Ebden.

Radwanska, ranked sixth in the world, started her new season in trademark fashion, blunting the shotmaking of the 29th-ranked Casey Dellacqua to win their clash in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.

Ebden then looked set to level the tie when he dominated the early proceedings against a jet-lagged Janowicz.

The world No. 231 took the first set against the 43rd-ranked Janowicz and served for the match at 5-4 in the second set as a major upset loomed.

However, Janowicz broke back and rattled off the last nine games of the match to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-0.

Ebden was troubled by a left calf injury in the deciding set, having sought medical attention at the end of the second set.

The injury forced the Australians to forfeit the dead mixed doubles rubber.

Earlier, veteran Lucie Safarova carried her career-best form of 2014 into the new year to guide the Czech Republic to an upset 2-1 win over Canada.

Safarova, who turns 28 next month, climbed to a career-high ranking of 14th last September, making the second week of three of the Grand Slams including a semi-final appearance at Wimbledon.

The cagey left-hander opened her new campaign in the best possible fashion, with a commanding straight sets win over rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard.

Bouchard was a revelation at last year's Hopman Cup on her way to a breakthrough year that saw the 20-year-old reach the Wimbledon final, where she was beaten by Petra Kvitova.

However, the world No. 7 was no match for the 16th-ranked Safarova and was beaten 6-0, 6-4 in just 68 minutes.

The Canadian won the first three points of the match to reach 0-40 on the Safarova serve, but the Czech then took total control to hold on her way to winning the first eight games of the match.

The Safarova forehand provided regular winners, while Bouchard was plagued by unforced errors and struggled to win points on her serve, which she held only twice.

Bouchard showed some fight to break Safarova when she served for the match at 5-3, but the Czech broke straight back to secure the win.

Safarova was thrilled with her form after five days of training in Perth.

"It seems like I'm growing," she said.

"Through the years you get more experience and my tennis is better and better.

"(Top 10) is the next goal, I mean I obviously want to improve in the rankings and last year I reached my best.

"That's the dream and I hope I can reach it this year."

The Canadians levelled the tie when world No. 53 Vasek Pospisil beat the 240th-ranked Adam Pavlasek, a late replacement for Radek Stepanek, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

However, the Czechs were far too good in the deciding mixed doubles, winning 6-4, 6-2 as they capitalised on the fragile Bouchard serve.

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