The West

France close on Hopman Cup final
Alize Cornet of France on her way to victory over Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues. Pic: Getty Images

UPDATE Saturday 8.50am: Alize Cornet has not hidden how much she covets the Hyundai Hopman Cup trophy.

While many of the players have had a relaxed approach and treated the $1 million mixed teams tournament as a warm-up for the Australian Open, Cornet has scrapped for every point.

The 23-year-old world No.27 will get her chance to claim the title for France for the first time when she and teammate Jo-Wilfried Tsonga take on Polish pairing Agnieszka Radwanska and Grzegorz Panfil in tonight’s final.

The showdown means the event, in its 26th year, will have a new winner in 2014, with the Poles making their debut and the French yet to lift the trophy in 20 appearances.

France have twice been the runners-up, in 1998 and 2012, and if Cornet has anything to do with it, the drought will end tonight.

“My first goal is of course to win,” she said. “I am not just here just to make preparation.”

Cornet admitted to hamstring soreness during her first singles win of the tournament yesterday, but there was no chance she would give up an opportunity to win an event that would sit right up there with her three singles and two doubles titles.

“It would be one of the greatest successes of my career,” she said. “It is a very tough competition. When you see all the names of the players playing here and the level of the competition, that (to win) would be amazing.

“And for the French Federation and for France it would be just great for the first time to win here.

“Personally I take it very seriously and I will give my best.”

Cornet will be the underdog when she takes on world No.5 Radwanska.

She has not beaten the star Pole in two meetings but has been buoyed by trading blows with world No.6 Petra Kvitova and No.12 Sloane Stephens this week.

“It would be amazing to beat my first top-10 player for a long time in the final of the Hopman Cup,” she said.

Tsonga admitted to knowing little of his opponent, surprise packet Panfil.

The Australian Open finalist conceded the world No.288 would probably beat him on the dance floor — a reference to the Hopman Cup new year party — but hoped he would prevail on court.

“I know he’s a lefty,” Tsonga said.

“He beat some good players, so he’s going to be dangerous.”

The West Australian

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