Indian Hopman campaign ends in defeat

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Perth, Jan 3 (UNI) Sania Mirza and Rohan Boppana's dream run in the mixed doubles went up in smoke as Czech Republic defeated the duo in their singles encounter, ending India's hope of making it to the finals.

India started the match knowing fully well that a outright win against the Czech combined with a result in which Australia defeats the American could only give them a berth in the finals. But the script didn't go as planned.

The first match saw a tough battle between Sania Mirza and Lucie Safarova. Sania went down fighting to her Czech opponent 2-6 6-4 3-6 in a deul that stretche to 110 minutes.

Safarova got off to a flying start against Mirza, winning the opening set 6-3. The battle between the world's No. 23 and 31 then heated up when Mirza levelled the match by taking the second set 6-4.

Safarova proved too strong in the third to record her first singles win of the week, clinching the match 6-3 in the decider.

All hopes of making the final cut then fall on Rohan Bopanna, but his Czech rival Tomas Berdych, who struggled with a virus early in the week, then beat Rohan Bopanna 6-4 6-0.

Bopanna held a 2-0 lead to start the match, but Berdych responded by winning the next five matches to eventually take the set 6-4. He then dominated the second, taking it 6-0.

The Indians though made sure they left Perth remaining undefeated in the doubles, beating Safarova and Berdych 6-3, 6-2 in a dead rubber.

Mirza and Bopanna took their Hopman Cup mixed doubles record to six wins out of six with a 6-3 6-2 victory.

India finished second in Group B and the Czech Republic fourth.

After the match Sania said, ''It's a shame we didn't get to the final, but at least we kept our unbeaten record.

''The good thing is we got a lot of matches in this week -- a lot of good matches, so it is very good preparation for the Australian Open.'' UNI XC TB GC1657

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