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Germany joined Switzerland in the 2018 Hopman Cup final as they beat Australia 2-1 to top Group A in Perth on Friday.
Belgium’s earlier 3-0 victory over Canada had left Germany needing a win over the hosts in order to advance to the final.
They got off to a brilliant start, with former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber thrashing Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-2 in the women’s singles clash.
But Alexander Zverev then lost 7-5, 6-7 (4), 4-6 to world No. 209 Thanasi Kokkinakis in a mammoth encounter to send the match to the mixed doubles decider.
The momentum continued to swing Australia’s way—a win for them would put Belgium into the final—as Gavrilova and Kokkinakis took the opening set 4-1 in the Fast4 mixed doubles clash.
But Zverev and Kerber levelled with their own 4-1 victory in the second set and then finally broke Australia’s resistance to reach the final by winning the decider in a desperately tight tiebreak.
Germany will face off against Switzerland in the final of the 2018 Hopman Cup at 4 p.m. local time (8 a.m. GMT, 3 a.m. ET) on Saturday, Jan. 6.
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The clash between Zverev, 20, and the 21-year-old Kokkinakis was remarkably tight and incredibly entertaining as the two youngsters went toe-toe-toe for over two hours and 40 minutes.
Zverev won the opening set after he took the first break of the match at 5-5 before serving out impressively under pressure.
Kokkinakis then stepped up his game in the second and earned his first break point in the sixth game of the set, but he couldn’t take it.
He then earned four chances to win the set at 5-4 ahead on Zverev’s serve, and another two at 6-5, but he could not convert any of them, most frustratingly failing to take advantage of a smash on the fourth set point.
Lesser players may have crumbled after the disappointment, but Kokkinakis was imperious early in the tiebreak and earned another three set points at 6-3 before finally forcing a decider at the eighth opportunity.
The Hopman Cup provided the stats from an immense set of tennis:
Hopman Cup @hopmancup
Proving the old adage that against the best you play your best, here’s how #Kokkinakis levelled against #Zverev.
#TeamAustralia #TeamGermany #HopmanCup https://t.co/596kDDjhyb
Zverev opened up the decider in confident fashion with two holds to love but was then broken by Kokkinakis, allowing the Australian to take a 3-2 lead.
The German’s frustration was obvious as he began to make more mistakes, and Kokkinakis’ confidence grew and grew until he earned two match points at 5-4 ahead.
Zverev saved the first with a stunning passing shot, and Kokkinakis then squandered the second with a double fault. But a huge serve on his third match point saw the Australian earn the victory and leave Germany needing the mixed doubles victory to reach the final.
David Goffin won his third singles match of the tournament in Belgium’s defeat of Canada earlier on Friday, downing Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-4.
Elise Mertens prevailed 6-4, 6-4 over Eugenie Bouchard in the women’s singles, a match during which the Canadian star suffered an injury, per ABC’s Chris Rowbottom:
Chris Rowbottom @chrisroww
Eugenie Bouchard has suffered a glute injury at the Hopman Cup and has pulled out of the mixed doubles. Must now be in some doubt for @HobartTennis which starts on Sunday. @abcnewsTas
As a result of Bouchard having to pull out of the mixed doubles, Belgium were also handed the victory in that clash, but it counted for nothing in the end as Germany advanced to the final.