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Rediff.com  » Sports » Slovakia upset Russia to win Hopman Cup

Slovakia upset Russia to win Hopman Cup

January 09, 2009 23:03 IST

Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hrbaty ripped up the form book to win the Hopman Cup with victory over Russia in Perth on Friday.

Russia had been the overwhelming favourites to win the mixed team event since Dinara Safina and her brother Marat Safin were ranked much higher than their respective singles opponents.

But their reputation counted for little. Cibulkova beat Safina 6-7 6-1 6-4 before world number 250 Hrbaty made a mockery of his ranking to edge out twice grand slam champion Safin 6-7 7-5 7-6.

World number three Safina had been expected to hand 2006 champions Russia the early advantage as she had easily won her two previous meetings against Cibulkova.

If she thought she would extend that record to a hat-trick of victories, her 19th-ranked opponent had other ideas.

Safina squandered three set points in the 10th game of the opening set before dominating the ensuing tiebreak.

In the second, Safina's game fell apart and predictably her emotions started to spill over as she tried to regain her rhythm.

The Russian struggled to stem the flow of unforced errors and the match looked all but over when she trailed 5-1 in the third.

After clawing back to 5-5, Safina was finally undone by some ferocious groundstrokes from Cibulkova.

Safin looked poised to keep Russia's title hopes alive when he took a tight first set but could not deny a determined Hrbaty victory.

It was Hrbaty's second success in Perth as he had also led Slovakia to victory in 2005.

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