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Tsonga survives to send France into final

By Chris Pike
3 January 2014 06:52PM EST

THE Hopman Cup will have a first time winner in 2014 after France joined Poland in Saturday's final at the Perth Arena.

The top-seeded Polish team of Agnieszka Radwanska and Grzegorz Panfil (replacing Jerzy Janowicz) had already qualified for the final in their nation's debut at the Hopman Cup after a win over Australia's Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic so they sat back and watch on Friday to see who their opponents would be.

It was all in the hands of French pair Alize Cornet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga heading into the final day of the round-robin mixed teams tournament with them just needing to beat the makeshift Spanish team of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Daniel Munoz-De La Nava to book a spot in the final.

That's exactly what the French team did but they did not have it all their own way against the Spaniards.

Cornet had no trouble accounting for a clearly injury-hampered Medina Garrigues in the women's singles prevailing 6-2, 6-2 and then Tsonga would have expected to have no trouble with the 194th-ranked Munoz-De La Nava who was a last-minute replacement for Tommy Robredo.

Tsonga did manage to win the first set, but it was much tougher than the French world No. 10 would have been expecting.

The Spaniard then took his game up to a level he might never have played at before to win the second set over Tsonga in a tie-break, but then he came unstuck due to a knee injury.

He got some treatment and had it strapped, but even that strapped annoyed him and with his movement clearly hampered, Tsonga took full advantage to end up winning the match 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.

That victory sees France qualify for Saturday's final as they attempt to win the Hopman Cup for the first time.

France heads into the final having beaten the USA's Sloane Stephens and John Isner, and the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova and Radek Stepanek.

Those Czech and Americans team will still clash at the Perth Arena on Friday night but it now counts for little more than match practice and for final finishing positions, and the resultant difference in prizemoney.

While Poland has a chance to now win the Hopman Cup title on their first attempt, France is participating in the tournament for the 19th time and also trying to win for the first time.

France has previously qualified for the final on two occasions with the team of Mary Pierce and Cedric Pioline losing to the Slovak Republic's Karina Habsudova and Karol Kucera in 1998, and then Marion Bartoli and Richard Gasquet going down to the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych in 2012.

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