|Tommy Robredo of Spain celebrates his win against Andy Murray of Britain after their mens singles final match of the Hopman Cup in Perth. (AFP photo)|
PERTH, Australia (AFP) – Tommy Robredo lifted Spain off the canvas to win their third Hopman Cup title with a 2-1 win over Great Britain in a thrilling final here Saturday.
Great Britain was on the verge of its first success in the mixed teams tournament when 15-year-old Laura Robson stunned experienced Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez to give her side the lead and world No.4 Andy Murray then breezed through the first set against Tommy Robredo.
Murray, who declared pre-match that he would not lose to the world No.16, hadn't dropped a set in singles all week and his early dominance on the back of an impregnable serve suggested he would finish the 27-year-old Spaniard off quickly and claim the title for the British.
However the pugnacious Robredo, seeking his second Hopman Cup title, clawed his way back into the contest as Murray fell away slightly and ultimately notched a memorable victory in three sets, setting up a live mixed doubles.
Despite again Robson belying her inexperience with her poise in a tense doubles clash, Murray struggled to recapture his best form and the fourth seeds won the important points to take the deciding rubber 7-6 (8/6), 7-5.
The British held three set points in the first set of the doubles at 6-3, but then dropped the next five points.
Although the British were able to save two championship points in the second set, it was third time lucky for the Spanish and fittingly it was a Robredo backhand winner down the line that sealed the result.
Spain also won the title in 1990, through Emilio Sanchez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, and in 2002, when a teenage Robredo teamed with Sanchez Vicario.
Martinez Sanchez admitted she thought the final was lost after her defeat at the hands of Robson.
"Tommy was the hero of the day," Martinez Sanchez said.
However, Robredo said it was a team effort.
"It was a great final," he said.
"I want to congratulate Maria, she said today I did great job but here no one wins alone so it is for her and our team."
Although Great Britain were part of the inaugural Hopman Cup back in late 1988, it was only their fourth appearance here and first since 1992.
In the women's singles, Robson, the world No.405, stunned the 26th-ranked Martinez Sanchez, who hadn't previously been beaten in singles here this week, in straight sets, 6-1, 7-6 (8/6), confirming her status as a player of exceptional promise by rattling off 28 winners.
With one rubber already unexpectedly squared away, the in-form Murray had the chance to live up to his bold pre-match declaration and therefore clinch the tie for Great Britain.
Great Britain's first Hopman Cup title beckoned after Murray's flying start, but Robredo regrouped and the Spaniard levelled the match on the back of some brilliant forehand winners, before maintaining that form in the third set to win 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.