France wins opening match over China at Hopman Cup

Perth: Marion Bartoli and Richard Gasquet beat China`s Li Na and Wu Di 6-1, 6-1 in mixed doubles Saturday to give France a 2-1 win in the opening fixture of the eight-country Hopman Cup.

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Earlier, Gasquet beat Wu 6-1, 6-3 to level after French Open champion Li had beaten Bartoli 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in women`s singles to give China an early lead at the Burswood Dome.

Bartoli broke Li`s serve in the fifth game of the final set to take a 3-2 lead, but Li broke back to level the set at 4-4 and took the match by breaking in the final game. Wu double-faulted on match point in his loss.

Li, who lost the Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters at the start of 2011 before her French Open win over defending champion Francesca Schiavone, had a poor half of last year after suffering a right knee injury. She lost in the second round at Wimbledon, the first round at the U.S. Open and in the round-robin stage at the WTA Championships.

Her win Saturday gave her some confidence for 2012.

"At the beginning of the match she was playing so fast, I was like `what`s going on`," Li said. "But after three or four games I got used to it."

"If I go somewhere to play a tournament, more people know who I am. I lose concentration on the court. It`s tough after winning a big title."

Australia`s unseeded pairing of Lleyton Hewitt and Jarmila Gajdosova play third-seeded Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain in the only match Sunday.

On Monday, Czech Republic plays Bulgaria and the United States, with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Mardy Fish, takes on world women`s No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark.

The U.S., Denmark, Czech Republic and Bulgaria and playing in Group A, with France, Spain, Australia and China in Group B. The group winners play next Saturday in the final of the 24th annual tournament.

Bureau Report

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