AUSTRALIA’S quest for a second Hopman Cup title will have to wait another year after a marathon 2-1 loss to the Slovak Republic early today.
Lleyton Hewitt continued his winning ways with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (7-1) 6-4 triumph over Dominik Hrbaty but Casey Dellacqua lost her second match in as many days when world No.19 Dominika Cibulkova cruised to a 7-5 6-2 win in 84 minutes.
Australia, who lost 2-1 to Germany on Monday, needed to beat the Slovak Republic in the mixed doubles to win the tie and stay in the hunt for Friday’s final.
But a weary Hewitt and a luckless Dellacqua couldn’t muster the win, with Hrbaty and Cibulkova running out 6-7 (7-5) 6-3 7-6 (10-4 in match tiebreak) winners in a match that didn’t finish until 3.35am Melbourne time.
Slovak Republic, who beat the top-seeded US on Monday, can guarantee a spot in the final if they can defeat Germany in their final Group A encounter.
Earlier on Tuesday, Italy defeated France 2-1 in the group B tie.
Alize Cornet disposed of Flavia Pennetta 7-5 6-2 but Simone Bolelli kept Italy in the tie when he upset world No.6 Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3 6-3.
Bolelli then combined with Pennetta to win the mixed doubles 6-4 7-6 (7-2).