SA level at Hopman Cup

2012-12-29 08:32

Perth - Anabel Medina Garrigues posted a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Chanelle Scheepers on Saturday to pull Spain level 1-1 against South Africa as the Hopman Cup mixed team event began the Australian tennis summer.

The world No 50 is playing the event for a third time after reaching the 2007 final for her country.

Medina Garrigues saved face for Spain, a three-time champion at the eight-nation mixed team event, after Kevin Anderson had given South Africa the lead by defeating Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

The men's match featured only one break of serve as play began at the new arena, which duplicates the court surface, balls and moveable roof of the Australian Open, starting in a fortnight.

Australia, with 20-year-old Bernard Tomic and teenaged former junior Wimbledon champion Ash Barty, were representing the hosts later in an opening-day tie against Germany featuring veteran Tommy Haas and Andrea Petkovic.

Medina Garrigues advanced on her second match point against the South African who defeated her in their only WTA meeting, last March in Miami.

"It's tough against her," said the winner. "We have similar games - no mistakes and a lot of rallies.

Using the Australian heat rule, the roof of the new arena was shut for the women's match amid 41 degree Celsius temperature which will mark a Perth heat wave into the New Year. Spectators are untroubled even with the roof open thanks to air conditioning vents under each seat in the 13 000-capacity facility.

"I'm really glad they closed the roof or I would not have survived," joked Medina Garrigues, who owns one hardcourt title - earned in Australia six years ago - amid 10 on her favoured clay.

"I felt better with the roof closed, after coming from Europe and a 20-degree difference. This court reminds me of the Australian Open, so it's looking like a good preparation for Melbourne."

Anderson won his match with one break of serve against Verdasco, who had won their meetings in 2011 and 2012. Medina Garrigues won with four breaks of serve and 15 winners. Scheepers, ranked 60th, committed 42 unforced errors.