Perth: Italy came from behind to beat Germany 2-1 at the Hopman Cup on Wednesday. Francesca Schiavone staged a fightback to defeat Tatjana Malek 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and level the tie for Italy after Tommy Haas resisted a solid challenge and defeated Andreas Seppi 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7). Italy then won the doubles 6-4, 7-5.
Malek had arrived in Perth from Miami just 10 hours before taking to the court, after flying over 11,000 miles to replace the injured Andrea Petkovic. Schiavone took a 3-0 lead, but Malek then swept the next eight games as the Italian made a succession of errors and struggled to deal with her opponent's big forehand and a serve that produced eight aces.
Schiavone began to turn the match around by quickly recovering a break early in the second set. Malek then went on to drop her serve after holding two game points at 3-3, and she was broken again for the set, double-faulting after holding a further three game points.
Although Schiavone appeared to be suffering with an abdominal injury, she broke serve to lead the final set 3-1 and that was enough to secure victory. Her discomfort was later revealed to be due to illness rather than injury.
"I think she played great after 3-0 for me but then I played better," Schiavone said. "For her it was not easy after she just arrived. I have a stomach pain but it's okay. I can resist."
Despite Haas holding six of his service games at love, Seppi was in a position to win both sets. The Italian broke to lead the opening set 5-4 but failed to serve it out and then conceded the tiebreaker. In the second set Seppi held off break points at 1-1 and 3-3 and then led the tiebreaker 6-3, but he again failed to close out the set as Haas fought off a total of four set points to claim victory.
"Yeah you know, it's one of those matches," said Haas. "Against Tomic I had five set points in the first tie-breaker and I served for the match and fight through the third and I lost. Today was vice-versa. It's never over until the last point really.
"Overall I think we both played a really good match, high quality tennis overall and very competitive. It came down to a few points here and there."
Later on Wednesday, Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic play the Australian pairing of Bernard Tomic and Ashleigh Barty.