Sport Tennis Winning start for France at Hopman Cup

Winning start for France at Hopman Cup

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The French pairing of Alize Cornet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga got their Hopman Cup off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic at the mixed teams tournament on Monday.

The athletic Tsonga declared he was back to full fitness after opening the Group B tie with an emphatic 6-1 6-4 win over 35-year-old Radek Stepanek.

Although Cornet then lost a thrilling match with former world No.2 Petra Kvitova 6-1 3-6 7-5, the French claimed the tie with a 6-1 6-3 win in the mixed doubles.

Tsonga, who has been ranked as high as fifth in the world but enters 2014 at number 10 after knee problems scuppered his hopes this year, made short work of the wily Stepanek.

The 28-year-old, who started his season in Abu Dhabi before arriving in Perth on Sunday, said he wasn’t far off his best heading into the new year.

“It’s (the knee) much better, it’s finished now,” he said.

“I have no pain anymore, I can play 100 per cent and it’s good.”

Tsonga missed this year’s US Open because of his knee injury, and it also forced him to retire during his second round match at Wimbledon.

The Frenchman said he was still weary from his travel and was pleasantly surprised by his form against Stepanek.

“I just arrived yesterday so I was a bit tired but I played good tennis actually and I’m very happy to go through this one because it’s not easy,” he said.

In the women’s singles, Kvitova prevailed over Cornet in an impressive battle that lasted over two hours.