By Ros Satar
- Andy Murray and Heather Watson beat France in their Hopman Cup opener
- Andy Murray def. Kenny De Schepper 6-2 6-2
- Caroline Garcia def. Heather Watson 6-3 5-7 6-3
- GBR def. FRA 6-2 5-7 10-6
PERTH, AUSTRALIA – Great Britain got off to a winning start as they battled past France in their Hopman Cup opening round.
Andy Murray got things off to a brisk start with a 6-2 6-2 rout of French replacement Kenny De Schepper, who was subbed in for the injured Gael Monfils.
In fact injuries seem to be the word of the five day old season, as earlier in the day the USA found themselves without World No. 1 Serena Williams, as she pulled out of her opener against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina with an inflamed knee. Hoping to be ready for their second round, she was replaced by the popular Vicky Duval. Since recovering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she has been working her way back up, but for her to play in front of an appreciative crowd wasn’t quite enough to lift her to a victory against the promising Svitolina.
Meanwhile back in the night session, the crowds got a bit of a marathon as Watson and Caroline Garcia had a battle royal in their singles match. It was just a single break in a tight first set that put the French ahead but a trade of breaks at the start of the second and some more tit-for-tat later in the set kept Watson in with a shout.
Working temporarily with Judy Murray while Down Under, Watson put on a bit of a sprint in the second set to break Garcia twice at the business end of the set to take it into a decider.
Garcia would strike again early in the third set, before breaking Watson at the end to even the score ahead of the mixed doubles.
The Brits looked sharp in the second set, as the pair were beginning to be more in tune with each other (something that wasn’t too evident in their first outing last year). Still, the French were not to be outdone, and Garcia’s own doubles skills came to the fore as the French forced a match tie-break with the second set.
There no team seemed to want to hold on to their serve and at the end the Brits pulled away to a 7-4 lead only to squander that advantage straight away. Repeating the feat brought up match points which they duly converted to get off to a winning start.
GB will face Australia Green in their next group match.
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