TWO SLOVAK tennis professionals have won the 21st annual Hopman Cup in Perth.
The tournament is the unofficial World Cup for mixed international teams, and is held under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
It is Slovakia’s third victory in the tournament (Slovaks previously won in 1998 and 2005) making Slovakia the second most successful country in the tournament’s history after the US, which has five titles, the Sme daily wrote.
Dominika Cibulková and Dominik Hrbatý completed their successful campaign on the hard-surface courts of the Burswood Dome by winning 2:0 in the finals over the favoured Russians on January 9.
The pair did not need to go to a doubles decider as both won their individual finals.
The first victory went to Dominika Cibulková, over the world's current number three, Dinara Safina, in 148 minutes by 6:7 (3), 6:1, 6:4. The decisive second point for Slovakia was won by Dominik Hrbatý, who in a tight 129-minute duel beat the former world number 1 Marat Safin, by 6:7 (5), 7:5, 7:6 (3), SITA wrote.
Apart from the final joint prize of 240,000 Australian dollars (approximately €121,000), the champions will also bring home from Perth two special tennis balls, studded with diamonds.
Slovakia’s previous winners were Katarína Habšudová and Karol Kučera in 1998 and Daniela Hantuchová and Hrbatý in 2005. Slovakia did not compete in the three events between 2006 and 2009.
The result is a huge success for Slovak tennis, which has experienced some tough years recently, Sme wrote. Bookmakers had ranked the team seventh out of eight in the odds, with Hrbatý placed as the last man in the chart (he is 253rd in the ATP rankings).
Moreover, Cibulková is the only female player to have repeated Serena Williams’s triumph in Perth in 2003, by winning all her singles and doubles matches.