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Serbia hunts for Hopman Cup title

By Chris Pike
5 January 2013 03:41AM EST

SERBIA'S Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic have qualified for Saturday night's Hopman Cup XXV final in Perth with eyes on making up for the missed opportunity of two years ago.

The 25th edition of the Hopman Cup in Perth is the third time that Serbian stars Ivanovic and Djokovic have teamed together, and now they have the chance at a first title following a dominant performance against Germany on Friday night at Perth Arena.

Serbia needed to beat Germany to hold off Australia's Ashleigh Barty and Bernard Tomic from advancing to the final to face Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues and Fernando Verdasco, and Ivanovic and Djokovic were in dominant form.

The men's singles match was up first and Djokovic, the world No. 1, was smarting from his loss to Tomic and took it out fully on German veteran Tommy Haas.

The former world No. 2 had no answers for the five-time Grand Slam winner with Djokovic totally dominant the 34-year-old to take out the match 6-2, 6-0.

Ivanovic had been faultless all week winning her singles matches against Italy's Francesca Schiavone and Australia's Barty, and the former world No. 1 was in no mood to muck around on Friday night against German substitute Tatjana Malek either.

The 25-year-old cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win in just 37 minutes to book Serbia in for the final against Spain's Medina Garrigues and Verdasco.

While it is the first time that Ivanovic and Djokovic will appear in the Hopman Cup final, it's not the first time the pair have qualified.

The pair first represented Serbia in Perth at Hopman Cup XVIII in 2006 when the rising pair of teenagers were starting to offer a glimpse of what the future holds.

Before their next visit in 2011, Ivanovic had reached world No. 1 status and won a French Open while Djokovic was just weeks away from his second Australian Open, and months away from reaching his world No. 1 ranking for the first time as well.

In between that, Djokovic teamed with Jelena Jankovic in 2008 at Hopman Cup XX and made the final but ended up losing to American pair Serena Williams and Mardy Fish with Jankovic struggling with a leg injury.

It looked as though Ivanovic and Djokovic were on track for Serbia's first Hopman Cup title in 2011, though, with the pair doing well to qualify for the final.

However, Ivanovic injured a stomach muscle in her final singles match against Belgium's Justine Henin and it flared up meaning that the Serbians had to pull out of the final against the USA's Bethanie Mattek-Sands and John Isner.

Belgium's Henin and Ruben Bemelmans took their place and the Americans won their sixth Hopman Cup crown.

Without question, Ivanovic felt bad following that and wanted to repay Djokovic and earn another chance at the title in Perth and now that opportunity presents on Saturday night against Spain.

Djokovic was delighted with his performance to beat Haas so convincingly to bounce back from his surprise loss to Tomic, and now can't wait to get out on the Perth Arena court again on Saturday night for the final against Spain.

"This is the third time we have played with each other at the Hopman Cup, and hopefully it's the lucky third time for us. We qualified for the final two years ago but didn’t play because Ana got injured, so we have to be very careful now tonight," Djokovic said.

"We have to get to bed early, do our stretching, recovery and eat good food so we are all healthy for tomorrow and ready to play. Obviously it is a big day and it was incredible to see a big house again here tonight.

"I wasn’t happy with my performance against Bernard, but I got a few more extra days here and I could relax, and get used to the time zone and practice a bit. Today's match was a great confidence boost for me so I'm happy that I bought Serbia a point so we can play the final tomorrow."

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