Czechs cash in on Italian woes in Hopman Cup
Little-known youngster Adam Pavlasek stunned Fabio Fognini as the Czech Republic remained unbeaten at the Hopman Cup with a 3-0 clean sweep of Italy at the mixed teams tournament on Tuesday.
Sydney: Little-known youngster Adam Pavlasek stunned Fabio Fognini as the Czech Republic remained unbeaten at the Hopman Cup with a 3-0 clean sweep of Italy at the mixed teams tournament on Tuesday.
The 239th-ranked Pavlasek has never played in an ATP event, but fought back from a set down to beat the world number 19 in Perth and secure a second successive win for the Czechs.
Earlier, 15th-ranked Lucie Safarova had notched her second win over a higher-ranked opponent in as many matches in the women`s singles to give the Czechs the lead.
The Italians forfeited the dead mixed doubles rubber, with Fognini ruling himself out due to a heat-related illness.
Having trounced world number six Eugenie Bouchard on the opening day of the tournament, Safarova opened the tie by prevailing over 12th-ranked Flavia Pennetta in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.
However, few expected that Pavlasek would deliver the knockout blow to Italy`s hopes in the tournament against the cagey Fognini.
The match went to script when the Italian cruised through the first set, but the 20-year-old Czech levelled the match in the second set.
The third set was one-way traffic as Pavlasek raced to a 5-0 lead against the wilting Fognini on his way to the biggest win of his career, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.
"It was the biggest win in my career and it`s just amazing that I can play with the top players and I was happy for it," he said.
"This is the first time I`ve ever played someone in the top 20.
"I have to play every point that I can and I still felt good after the first set and I won the match."
The results mean Italy are out of Hopman Cup contention, having also lost their first tie against the United States.
With two wins from two ties, the Czechs are likely to have to beat the United States pairing of Serena Williams and John Isner on Thursday evening to reach Saturday`s final.
Both Pavlasek and Safarova said they were looking forward to the challenge against the heavily favoured Americans.