ATP Tour

Australia pip GB to Hopman Cup final

Nick Kyrgios (AP)
Nick Kyrgios (AP)

Perth - Australia Green won a thrilling mixed doubles match against France at the Hopman Cup Friday to secure a place in the final against Ukraine, snatching the spot from Great Britain.

Nick Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova propelled Australia into their first Hopman Cup final since 2003, beating French pairing Kenny de Schepper and Caroline Garcia in a tense decider, 6-4, 2-6, 11-9.

The home side - one of two Australian combinations in the mixed teams event - looked set to cruise into the final when they took the first set, but the French duo rallied and forced a match to a three set tiebreak.

Kyrgios managed to keep his unbeaten record intact by winning his earlier singles match against de Schepper, 6-4, 6-4, while Gavrilova lost to Garcia 6-4, 7-6 (9/7).

The win by the host nation side - who have not won the tournament since 1999 - denied Great Britain a spot in the final.

Great Britain had temporarily kept their Hopman Cup final hopes alive with a 3-0 win over Germany.

Any Murray and Heather Watson won their respective singles matches against Alexander Zverev and Sabine Lisicki, but they needed Australia Green to lose in order to make the last two.

Kyrgios, 20, said taking the tournament title would be a perfect start to the year, as he looks to move on from the controversies of 2015.

"It's pretty special," he said. "Hopefully we can bring it home."

Kyrgios, ranked 30th in the world, will face world number 36 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, after the country's team secured their place in the final on Thursday.

"It is going to be tough," Kyrgios said.

"He has been playing really well and is a tricky customer.

"He's very unorthodox and has been around the tour for a long time now, so he's not going to be easy at all."

Ukraine's previous appearance at the Hopman Cup was back in 1995, when siblings Andrei Medvedev and Natalia Medvedeva reached the final.

Murray said the Hopman Cup had provided an ideal launching pad for his upcoming Australian Open campaign in Melbourne later this month.

Murray was too good for the emerging Zverev, despite being broken when he initially served for the second set, winning 6-3, 6-4 for two victories from his three singles matches in Perth.

His one defeat was to Kyrgios.

"I obviously have things to practice on and try to improve, I am fairly pleased with how I played," Murray said.

"The serve was good, that is a good start to build from.

"I gave up maybe five or six break points total in the three matches, and some of them could have been avoided as well, so that was very good.

"The rest of my game there is a few things I can still work on, the movement can get a bit sharper and hit the ball a bit cleaner from the back of the court, but I think that will come."

Watson showed she would be a dangerous opponent in Melbourne with her second win in succession against Lisicki.

Former Wimbledon finalist Lisicki is on the comeback trail after being sidelined by injury for the second half of 2015 and had her chances against Watson, but could not match her opponent's consistency.

Ranked 32 in the world, the German had three break points at 0-40 when Watson served for the match in the second set, but the world number 55 claimed the final five points in succession to complete a 6-3, 6-4 win.

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