Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova and Grigor Dimitrov has ensured that Group A at Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIV remains wide open after beating Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki and Frederik Nielsen 2-1 at Session 7 at Perth’s Burswood Dome today. Denmark got off to a good start when world No. 1 Wozniacki won her women’s singles match over Pironkova 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 but then exciting Bulgarian youngster Dimitrov beat Nielsen 7-6, 6-2 to force a deciding mixed doubles. That ended up going to the Match Tie-break as well after Denmark won the first set 6-3 and Bulgaria the second 6-4. Pironkova and Dimitrov dominated the Match Tie-break, though, 10 points to one to win the first Tie at the Hopman Cup for their nation in their debut appearance. The result in favour of Bulgaria also makes sure that Group A remains wide open in the race for Saturday’s Final. Denmark and Bulgaria have now won a Tie each as have the top-seeded Czech Republic but the fourth-seeds USA are yet to notch a victory. However, the American team of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Mardy Fish will face the Czech pairing of Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych tonight in Session 8 of Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIV. A Czech Republic win would mean they are in prime position to make the Final heading into Friday’s Tie with Denmark, but if the USA are victorious then Friday’s double-header will see all four teams from Group A still capable of earning a spot in the Final.
The Tie began with Wozniacki having to fight hard for the second straight time in her women’s singles clash, but the world No. 1 came out victorious to open Session 7 with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Pironkova. The match lasted 2hrs 32mins to be the longest women’s singles clash this week so far. After the 21-year-old Dane made a whirlwind flight from Thailand to Perth on Monday to take on the USA’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands and end up winning 7-6, 6-2, she was again challenged strongly by her Bulgarian opponent. Pironkova might be ranked No. 46 in the world, but has beaten the likes of Venus Williams and Vera Zvonareva twice in her career already, and came out strongly against Wozniacki. The 24-year-old broke Wozniacki’s serve in the third game of the first set and then went up 4-2, but the world No. 1 quickly hit back to level things at 4-4, 5-5 and then broke Pironkova’s serve to take out the opening set 7-5 in 69 minutes. It was again Pironkova who started strongly in the second set as she raced to a 3-1 and then 4-2 advantage. This time she was able to maintain it to take out the set 6-4 to send the contest into a deciding third set. The third set was all the world No. 1, though, as she won it 6-2 to give Denmark a winning start to the Tie fresh off their win over the USA on Monday night as well. Dimitrov then won his men’s singles clash over Nielsen 7-6, 6-2. Nielsen, though, was coming off an outstanding three-set performance against American Mardy Fish on Monday night and Dimitrov also took it up to Czech Tomas Berdych on Monday. That set up a tight tussle between the Bulgarian and Dane. The first set was an especially hotly-contested battle. There was no break of serve despite both players, but especially Dimitrov, having plenty of break points. It went to the tie-break and Dimitrov was able to open up an early 6-2 advantage. Nielsen did hit back to be within 5-6, but the Bulgarian was able to hold serve for the last point to secure the set seven points to five. The Bulgarian then eventually capitalised on a break point opportunity in the first game of the second set to take Nielsen’s serve and from there the 20-year-old cruised through to take it out 6-2.
Then in the mixed doubles, it was the Denmark pair who made the bright start taking out the first set 6-3. However, Pironkova and Dimitrov hit back in the second winning it 6-4 any cruised to the Match Tie-break victory to heat things up in Group A of Hyundai Hopman Cup XXIV.