Serbia mix it up to beat Australia


TENNIS: Serbia needed a champions tie-break in the deciding mixed doubles rubber to beat Australia after Novak Djokovic suffered a surprise defeat to Bernard Tomic in the Hopman Cup in Perth.

Djokovic lost in straight sets to Tomic and Serbia had to rely on Ana Ivanovic to beat Ashleigh Barty before edging to a 2-1 win in a tight mixed doubles rubber.

Tomic never really looked in trouble against the top-ranked player in the men’s section and an upset in Group A looked on the cards. But Ivanovic made short work of her young opponent and eased to a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

The Serbians then teamed up and looked on course for a comfortable win when they took the first set 6-4. But Tomic and Barty battled back to win the second set 10/8 on a tie-break.

That resulted in a champions tie-break which Djokovic and Ivanovic won 10-6 to record Serbia’s second group win of the tournament.

Tomic had a poor 2012 in which he fell to outside the top 50 in the world rankings but the 20-year-old has vowed to return to the top 10 this year.

He has recorded back-to-back victories at the Hopman Cup against Germany’s Tommy Haas and Djokovic.

Worked hard

“I’m thankful to get the opportunity to play against Novak,” Tomic said. “I was very nervous before the match. I’ve worked hard on my serve and technique in the off-season and I think that’s why I won. And I’ve been working on my head a lot, trying to not get distracted.”

Francesca Schiavone and Andreas Seppi had earlier earned Italy a 2-1 win over Germany in the other Group A match.

Italy had to come from behind to clinch the tie after Seppi lost his singles to Tommy Haas.

Schiavone defeated Tatjana Malek before teaming up with Seppi to win the mixed doubles.

Seppi had been in a position to win both sets against Haas before losing 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (9/7), Schiavone then defeating Malek 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. The doubles went 6-4, 7-5 in Italy’s favour.

Ever dissatisfied world number one Victoria Azarenka began her build-up to the Australian Open with an imposing 6-3, 6-3 victory over big-serving Sabine Lisicki in the Brisbane International second round yesterday. The defending Australian Open champion made light work of the German to set up a quarter-final meeting with qualifier Ksenia Pervak.

“I’m such a picky person that I probably never will be satisfied,” Azarenka said. “That’s a good thing because I have a lot more matches to play and I can always improve. But it was pretty good. I felt like the things that I’ve been working on are there. I’m getting into the competitive groove.”

The Australian Open begins at Melbourne Park on January 14th and Azarenka has only one thing in mind.

“I actually don’t really look at defending anything – I’m just looking to win,” she said.

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