So not exactly an auspicious start for the Australian Hopman Cup team. It was sort of equally their fault - Sam Stosur really should have won that singles match, and Lleyton Hewitt is potentially the worst doubles player in the entire universe. It was not a great performance, on the whole.
That said, you have to applaud the Romanians - especially Sorana Cirstea. She looked down and out after the first set against Stosur - she had no idea what was going on with the kick serve or anything, and Stosur was groundy-ing her off the court. But then... she worked it out. Once she started teeing off on those kick serves - Stosur's secret weapon - you knew it was going to be difficult for Stosur. Those huge crosscourt backhands that she brought to play were excellent, and I have never seen anyone able to pick that serve like that. It was awesome.
You know what else was awesome? The Hewitt/Hanescu match. I've never really seen Hanescu play before, but he's quite interesting to watch - a player in the mould of Juan Martin del Potro, though he's obviously not quite as good at it as Juan M is. I'm always amazed when I see those big dudes get down to volleys, but a huge percentage of them seem to be serve and volleyers, and Hanescu had good hands at the net.
But I really can't help myself liking Lleyton Hewitt when he's on the court, and he really owned this one. The third set was really tight, and he fired himself up when it counted. Sure, he might have been assisted by the fact that Hanescu looked like he was having mobility problems, but he stuck it out.
However, in the little I saw of the doubles... Hewitt was not so good, to put it mildly. Sam Stosur is one of the best doubles players in the world and he was running in front of her, behind her, pinching all her balls, trying to cover the whole court himself. I would have been very annoyed with him if I were Stosur. Not cool.
So not an auspicious start for Australia. It was, however, an auspicious start for Sorana Cirstea, who really served notice - and also for Rafa Nadal, who overcame his foe Robin Soderling in Abu Dhabi. Sure, the match means effectively nothing, but I'll bet Rafa's glad to have that victory, nonetheless.
Hopman Cup (Perth)
Romania 2, Australia 1
Sorana Cirstea def. Samantha Stosur, 3-6 6-4 6-3
Lleyton Hewitt def. Victor Hanescu, 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2)
Cirstea/Hanescu def. Stosur/Hewitt, 7-5 6-1
3 weeks ago