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Poland upsets Canada at Hopman Cup

By Chris Pike
30 December 2013 03:02AM EST

FINALLY the quality of tennis took centre stage at Perth's Hopman Cup with Poland upsetting Canada on Sunday night to move into prime position to qualify for the final.

All the news surrounding this year's Hopman Cup to date has surrounded drama with two of the main drawcards withdrawing leading into the tournament before another retired ill on the opening day, another refused to compete and then another also continue to play despite being hobbled.

That all led to some tennis that was far from high quality over the first three sessions, but that all changed on Sunday night as Canada's Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic took on Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska and Grzegorz Panfil at the Perth Arena.

It was no surprise that Polish world No. 5 Radwanska ended up beating her 19-year-old Canadian opponent Bouchard, but it was an outstanding three-set encounter that blew away all of the tennis that had been played so far at this year's tournament.

The match lasted almost two and-a-half hours with Radwanska ending up prevailing 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-2 but it was the world No. 32 Bouchard who showed more than enough exciting signs that she is a player that not too far into the future will be competing deep into Grand Slam tournaments.

Poland came into the Hopman Cup as the top-seeds but that was when Radwanska was to be partnered by emerging star Jerzy Janowicz who pulled out just over a week from the tournament with a foot injury.

His place was taken by world No. 288 Panfil so it was expected that the 11th-ranked big-hitting Canadian Raonic would have little trouble taking care of him and setting up a live mixed doubles later in the evening.

Raonic is hoping to cement a spot inside the world's top 10 in 2014 and he got his summer off to a good start beating Bernard Tomic on Saturday night even if the Australian didn’t bother to compete in the second set.

However, the relatively unknown and certainly unheralded Panfil put up a much bigger fight and not only was he competitive, but he proved too much for Raonic to handle.

The left-hander showed that he has much more of a game than his world ranking suggests and he won the first set in a tie-break seven points to one, and then cruised through the second set winning it six games to three to secure the match and the tie for Poland.

The win for Poland backs up their three-nil victory over Italy on Saturday that was all but handed to them when Andreas Seppi withdrew due to illness.

The Polish team will now need to lose badly to Australia's Sam Stosur and Tomic on Thursday night to not make Saturday's final at the Perth Arena.

Canada can still make the final if Bouchard and Raonic manage to beat Italy on Thursday and they helped their chances by winning the mixed doubles clash on Sunday night to close out the session against Poland 10 points to three in the Match Tie-Break after the first two sets were split 6-3, 5-7.

Monday's Hopman Cup action at the Perth Arena sees the USA make its first appearance as Sloane Stephens and John Isner do battle with the makeshift Spanish team of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Daniel Munoz-De La Nava.

Then Monday's night session will see France's Alize Cornet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga take on the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova and Radek Stepanek.

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