PERTH: The Hopman Cup got its first sight of Elena Dementieva yesterday but it was Igor Andreev who stole the limelight by inspiring Russia to a 2-1 win over Germany in the mixed team event.
World number five Dementieva was clearly rusty in her first outing at the traditional warm-up for this month’s Australian Open and she suffered a 6-4, 6-1 defeat to rising German talent Sabine Lisicki.
Andreev, however, edged out Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 to even up the tie before the Russians teamed up to win the deciding mixed doubles 6-4, 7-6.
The crowd had flocked to the Burswood Dome to see Dementieva, hoping that the change to her preparations for Melbourne would bring her good fortune at the first grand slam of the year.
Unfortunately for them, Dementieva looked as if the long flight from Russia had numbed her feet as she made a host of uncharacteristic groundstroke errors, while her serve malfunctioned to the tune of 10 double faults.
Lisicki has drawn comparisons with compatriot Steffi Graf thanks to her blonde hair and blistering forehand and the 20-year-old, ranked 22, cruised to an impressive victory.
Andreev, though, was not ready to throw in the towel and, with his hammer-like forehand working to perfection, he took the first set thanks to an early break.
Kohlschreiber began to step into the court to negate the Russian’s heavy topspin and it worked well as he snatched the second set on the tiebreak.
The Russian broke in the fourth game of the decider and held the advantage to keep the tie alive, making it eight career wins out of eight against the German.
“I think Philipp is very nice to me,” Andreev joked. “Maybe his style makes me feel a little comfortable. But I have some players that I am 0-10 down, so you never know.” — Reuters