Slovakia wins Hopman Cup over Russia

Updated: 10 January 2009 18:02 IST

Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hbraty led Slovakia to the Hopman Cup title with singles victories over Russian siblings Dinara Safina and Marat Safin.

Slovakia wins Hopman Cup over Russia

Perth:

Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hbraty led Slovakia to the Hopman Cup title on Friday with singles victories over Russian siblings Dinara Safina and Marat Safin.

Cibulkova beat Safina 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-4 Friday to give Slovakia a 1-0 lead and hand Safina her first singles loss of the tournament. Hrbaty then beat Safin, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (3) to clinch the championship before about 8,000 people at the Burswood Dome.

Each team had 3-0 records going into the final and led their groups in round-robin play.

It was Slovakia's third title in the 21-year history of the Hopman Cup. Hrbaty won the mixed teams event in 2005 with Daniela Hantuchova.

Safina, who defeated Alize Cornet of France, Italy's Flavia Pennetta and Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan in the group stages, gave away three set points in the 10th game of the opening set.

Trailing 5-1 in the deciding set, Safina won the next three games, but Cibulkova held her serve in the final game to take the match. It was the Slovakian's first win over Safina in three career matches.

"I was up 5-1 and suddenly it was 5-4, then she had a break point so I was really fighting," Cibulkova said. "I'm just so happy I beat her. I had to play aggressive."

Safin, who was unusually subdued during his group matches, displayed his typical volatility in the final, smashing a racket in the first set.

But the 28-year-old Safin, who has said he will retire at the end of 2009, also entertained the crowd. During a tense moment in the third set, with Hrbaty struggling to hold serve, Safin gave the net judge a kiss on the cheek after his wayward forehand hit her in the body.

Cibulkova was 11 when she started training at the same tennis club as Hrbaty.

"We played in the same club in Bratislava so we've known each other for a long time," Hrbaty said. "I watched her growing up at the courts, always practicing next to me. We have a long friendship."

Hrbaty said that closeness was crucial to guiding the seventh-seeded Slovak Republic to the title.

"In the end, because we had a great team spirit we won," Hrbaty said. "By ranking we weren't the best team, but by team spirit we were the best."



Topics : Tennis Daniela Hantuchova Slovakia
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