Hopman Cup: Barty and Ebden led Australia to beat France

Ebden came back to defeat Pouille, Barty claimed a straight-sets win over Cornet

by Alessandro Mastroluca
Hopman Cup: Barty and Ebden led Australia to beat France

Ashleigh Barty and Matthew Ebden helped Australia to beat France 2-1 in their debut match at 2019 Hopman Cup. Barty gave Australia a perfect start at RAC Arena, as she completed a 75 63 win over France’s Alize Cornet, who won the tournament with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2014.

Ebden came back to defeat Lucas Pouille 36 76 62 to hand Australia the victory. Beaten in the first set by huge serving and a lot of class by Pouille, Ebden managed to turn around and started to pose different questions to his opponent before dominating the decider.

Barty showed a brilliant defense and hit a wonderful forehand passing shot to claim the opening break to 3-1. Cornet found consistent depth from the baseline and forced Barty to fire a backhand into the net to give the break back to 4-3.

A double fault gave Barty the crucial set point and the Australian, in control for the most part of the opening set, came up with a cracking drop shot to finish a long rally and seal it 7-5. In the second, Barty assessed her lead with the opening break to move 3-1 up: following a nice forehand return, she used her sliced strokes to out-position her opponent and created the opportunity to put the volley away into the open court.

She maintained her lead despite Cornet lashed a forehand and came to the net to save the first match point. On the second, Barty delivered a perfect wide serve to start the season with a comfortable victory. “It’s been a few years since I’ve been here so it’s kind of winding back the clock a little bit, but certainly excited to be here with the hometown boy" said Barty who contested her first Mastercard Hopman Cup six years ago as a replacement for her close friend Casey Dellacqua, suffering from a foot injury.

“I think that for me the elusive top 10 is there,” Barty said of her 2019 priority. “We had an amazing season finishing top 15 but hopefully a few more good results in the Slams can push towards that top 10.” Pouille cracked on a slow second serve from the Australian to clinch the opening break to lead 4-2 and sealed it 6-3 after half an hour with a serve and volley on his fourth opportunity.

Ebden, ranked world No.46, scrapped to stay on serve in the second set and then jumped to a 5-0 lead in the tie-break. Pouille came back to 6-5, but he put a backhand long to force a decider. The Australian broke to 3-2 and extended his lead with a stunning pass to move 5-2 up.

He easily carried his momentum into the third set and outplayed the Frenchman, who is ranked world No.32 but was as high as 10 earlier in the 2018 season. The West Australian says he took a while to get into his groove. “There wasn’t much rhythm until the second set, late.

Lucas was playing fast; a lot of power in his serve,” Ebden said. “I was trying to do the same; be a little more aggressive, a little bit forward to the net and that worked out in the second and the third (sets) luckily".

Cornet and Pouille gained the mixed doubles as a consolation prize in straight sets. RESULT_END AUSTRALIA d. FRANCE Ash Barty (AUS) d Alize Cornet (FRA) 7-5 6-3 Matt Ebden (AUS) d Lucas Pouille (FRA) 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 Cornet/Pouille (FRA) d. Barty/Ebden (AUS) 4-3 4-2 RESULT_END

Hopman Cup