Perth: Tommy Robredo proved size is not everything in tennis, cutting towering American John Isner down to size to give Spain victory in their opening Hopman Cup encounter on Sunday.
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez put the two-times champions ahead with a 6-4 6-4 win over teenager Melanie Oudin, and Robredo beat the 6-foot-9 (2.06m) Isner 6-7 6-3 7-6.
The Spaniards then teamed up to win the mixed doubles 6-4 7-5 to complete a 3-0 whitewash.
Isner smashed down 16 aces but Robredo’s greater all-round ability eventually proved the difference between the two.
The Spaniard broke once in the second set to level the match but the decider was nip and tuck until the tiebreak, which Robredo pinched 7-5.
“It’s a bit like the casino, red or black,” Robredo said, when asked to describe what it is like to face the Isner serve.
“If it’s red it’s the forehand, if it’s black it’s the backhand, so I am very proud the way I returned.”
Experience and variety were the key factors as Martinez Sanchez saw off 18-year-old Oudin, a quarter-finalist at the US Open in September.
A Little Ragged
Oudin was guilty of making too many mistakes on her forehand and Martinez Sanchez took full advantage.
The left-hander used her serve to great effect and mixed serve and volley with some deft touch to leave Oudin looking a little ragged.
Martinez Sanchez did not face a break point until she served for the match at 5-2, when Oudin suddenly lifted her game to break back.
After holding serve, she then had a chance to break back for 5-5 but Martinez Sanchez held on and sealed victory with a volley at full stretch.
“At the beginning of the season it’s difficult to play matches and I was winning 5-2 and you have some doubts,” Martinez Sanchez said. “But at the end I played aggressive and I could win.”
Martinez Sanchez’s performance was even more impressive given the fact she woke up on Sunday feeling ill.
“This morning I was not OK and I threw up, but now I am much better,” she said.
Oudin said the Americans would give it everything when they played Australia in their next group match on Tuesday.
“We were both a bit down after the singles,” she said. “But it was really fun and it’s alright. We’ll bounce back.”