The Hyundai Hopman Cup will be decided in the mixed doubles after Agnieszka Radwanska leveled the decider for Poland with an epic victory over Alize Cornet at Perth Arena tonight.
The world No.5 has not lost a singles match during the tournament and continued her run in the final with a 6-3 6-7 6-2 win to make it 1-1 and force a live decider.
But is was far from easy for Radwanska, who had never previously lost to the feisty world No.27.
The pair battled each other to the point of exhaustion during a match that went for two and a half hours, much to the delight of the crowd in excess of 10,000.
Radwanska skipped out to a 3-0 lead early in the first set after breaking Cornet in the second game.
Cornet got on the board in the fourth game, and then earned her first break point on the Polish woman’s serve in the next game, but couldn’t convert.
Radwanska closed out the set on her second set point at 5-3 to take the opener in 34 minutes.
The women went toe-for-toe in the second set, until Radwanska couldn’t take advantage of five break points when Cornet was serving to go ahead at 3-3.
Radwanska got the break two games later, but blew a match point as she tried to serve it out at 5-4.
Cornet, who has been battling hamstring tightness, produced some unbelievable tennis as the pair played out some marathon rallies.
Cornet was so exhausted at one point during the game that she was called for a time violation by chair umpire James Keothavong.
But the 23-year-old finally took it on her seventh break point to level at 5-5, before both women held serve to take it to a tie-break.
By the time the Frenchwoman took the tie-break 9-7 to send it to a third set, they had already been on court for almost two hours.
Radwanska reemerged after the break clutching a heavily strapped right shoulder.
But it did not seem to affect her when play got underway.
Cornet battled to level at 1-1, saving three break points.
But the Pole converted her chance in the fourth game to go ahead 3-1.
Cornet continued to battle on, but could resist no longer when serving to stay in the match at 5-2.
A long forehand signaled the end of one of the finest matches in Hopman Cup history.
The women will be given the full half an hour to recover for the mixed doubles.
Cornet said she had been a long way from pulling out when she was struggling physically during an intense finish to the second set.
She said she had merely been trying to let the umpire know she couldn’t breathe.
“She (Radwanska) is top five in the world and it is not for nothing,” Cornet said.
“It is always very physical to play against her and I think in the third set I was just not ready to play the whole match at this level.
“I was far, far away from pulling out.
“Sometimes you can feel pain and still keep playing.
“It is not, because you are a struggling, a chance to give up, it’s not my philosophy.
“The end of the second set was very, very intense for both of us.”
Cornet said she was still determined to win the trophy for France for the first time.
“I still want it, I hope I am in the shape to do it with Jo,” she said.
Radwanska admitted she was having to hold back because of her shoulder injury.
“I am not really playing as strong as possible because of my shoulder,” she said.
“I don’t want to push 100 per cent.”
But she gave credit to her opponent for pushing her to three sets for the second time in the tournament.
“She was really playing very well, especially in that second set,” she said.
“She started playing very, very aggressive and of course I think I had match point and I didn’t use that.
“I couldn’t find a way back in that second set.”
Radwanska said she and her teammate Grzegorz Panfil would give their all in the mixed doubles in their debut at the tournament.
“We are going to do everything in our power to win that match.”