Serbians Fall, Americans Win

Team Serbia (Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic) could have won Hopman Cup 2011. Everything started so well. They were undefeated in six consecutive matches against Kazakhstan and Australia.

With no enough rest during the off-season, Novak Djokovic started his 2011 campaign by defeating Andrey Golubev in three sets (4-6, 6-3, 6-1). Golubev was consistently deep with his shots frustrating the World Number Three during the first set. However, Nole quickly found a way to control Golubev’s aggression and easily won the next two sets. Day four at Hopman Cup, Djokovic continued to play his best tennis of the season against the crowd-favorite Lleyton Hewitt. Nole triumphed in straight sets (6-2, 6-4) but the Australian deserved some big credit for his excellent footwork and defense. Against Belgium, Ruben Bemelmans only won five names and Nole guaranteed Serbia a spot in the finals.

Ana Ivanovic was shaky all-throughout the first set against Yaroslava Shvedova. There were some problems in her ball toss and Shvedova pushed her into a tie-breaker. Luckily, Ana won eight points to six. I saw a very confident Ana in the second set closing out the match at 6 – 1. I was a bit surprised with how Ana played against Alicia Molik. She was not returning balls just the way I expected. At 4-4 each, Ana took advantage of the situation and wasted no time to win the next two games.  Ana bageled Molik the next set. Serbia was defeated for the first time by Justine Henin in Day six. Although the match only lasted for 77 minutes and Ana won seven games, this match was absolutely good in quality. Both women showed a number of intelligent shotmaking and great angles. Henin only controlled her nerves hundred-folds better than Ana.

Who would imagine Nole and Ana can still win Mixed Doubles without any practice? Against Kazakshtan, the Serbians survived and came on top after nearly two hours of non-stop hitting (7-6 (7), 6-4). The Australians could have defeated them in straight sets.  However, Nole and Ana stayed patient, taking little steps one at a time until they won the nerve-cracking tie-break (6-7, 7-5, 10-6). The Serbians started strong against the Belgians, finishing the first set at (6-3). However, disappointing errors piled up and the confidence level went low and they lost the next two sets (4-6, 4-10).

Teamwork & Communication

Just having fun and smiling as the match goes on

Celebration

A day before the finals, this happens…

Ana Ivanovic suffered an abdominal injury and Serbia was forced to withdraw. Team Belguim replaced their spot against Team USA. Justine Henin won her singles against an aggressive dark horse Bethanie Mattek-Sands (undefeated in her three singles in Group B) while John Isner stunned Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-4 with his aces. There’s a 75 – 35 chance that USA would win the Mixed Doubles considering Isner and Mattek-Sands were accomplished doubles players. Just like that, it’s a landslide win for the pair and for that, USA won their sixth Hopman Cup!

Photos courtesy of: Getty Images in Yahoo!, Forty Deuce