Perth – The Spanish pairing of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Fernando Verdasco won their opening tie at the $1 million mixed teams Hopman Cup with a 2-1 win over South Africa in sweltering heat in Perth on Saturday.
The singles rubbers were split in the Group B tie, with Medina Garrigues beating Chanelle Scheepers and Kevin Anderson upsetting Verdasco before the Spaniards proved too strong in the deciding mixed doubles.
The fourth seeds for the eight-nation tournament, Verdasco and Medina Garrigues won the doubles in a match tiebreak, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 10-8 on a day where the mercury reached 40C (104F).
The South Africans were just two points from an upset win when they led 8-5 in the match tiebreak before the Spaniards reeled off the last five points of the match.
Anderson notched his first win over Verdasco in three attempts in the opening men's singles match, despite being ranked 13 places below the Spaniard at 37.
The South African had chances to break the remodelled Verdasco serve in the first set, but made amends in the tiebreak and then went on win in straight sets, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, in one hour and 43 minutes.
“It is always a little tricky in the first match of the year (new season),” said Anderson, who has been training with his coach in New Zealand.
“Both of us were trying to find our rhythm a little bit, but fortunately I was able to keep holding serve and play a couple of good points in the breaker.”
Medina Garrigues, ranked 50th, had too many shots for the 60th-ranked Scheepers, the two players trading blows from the back of the court in some lengthy rallies.
Scheepers had won their only previous encounter and held 11 break points to the Spaniard's eight during the match, but Medina Garrigues came from a break down in the first set to win 6-4, 6-2.
“Always when I play against Chanelle it is a tough match,” Medina Garrigues said. “We have a similar game, no mistakes and a lot of rallies.”
Medina Garrigues said it was an extremely testing hit-out in the heat, after coming from the European winter. –