France have claimed their first Hyundai Hopman Cup title in the event’s 26-year history after taking a straight sets mixed doubles win to give them the 2-1 victory over debutants Poland at Perth Arena tonight.
The mixed doubles didn’t get underway until after 11.15pm, courtesy of two marathon singles matches earlier in the night, with the French eventually taking the championship after midnight with the 6-0 6-2 win.
World No.10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was made to work for a 1-0 lead against the find of the tournament Grzegorz Panfil, before prevailing 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Agnieszka Radwanska then continued her unbeaten run at the tournament but was stretched for more than two and a half hours by a determined Alize Cornet in her 6-3 6-7 6-2 triumph to level and force the mixed doubles decider.
Both women were physically exhausted at the end of the epic match but had to back up for the doubles to decide the new winner of the trophy.
The French pairing, who haven’t lost a doubles match during the tournament, were unstoppable in the first set as they took it 6-0 in just 18 minutes.
Panfil was broken again in the first game of the second set, before Radwanska secured Poland’s first game of the match in her service game to make it 2-1.
The French broke Radwanska again in the seventh game to move to 5-2 and Cornet served it out to wrap up the maiden championship for her country in their 20th appearance.
Despite the loss, it is still the biggest payday of world No.288 Panfil's career, with the losers pocketing $90,000 each.
The winners took home $150,000 each and both Cornet and Tsonga said they would like to return to defend their title next year.
Cornet was particularly delighted at being part of the first French team to claim the trophy in 20 attempts.
“I am very happy that we made history today and that France finally won the Hopman Cup,” she said.
“I think we deserve it because we made a great week and once more it was on the decisive doubles and I really thank Jo for everything.”
Tsonga said he had told Cornet she could jump into his arms when they won after she caught him by surprise earlier in the week.
“It was funny,” Cornet said.
“On the match point I just wanted to let my joy show to the crowd, to everyone and I was very happy.
“I appreciate that he gave me the right to do it, I wanted to jump in his arms and I did it.”
Tsonga said he had been pleased with his preparation and was pleased with the outcome of the week, after having to withdraw with a knee injury last year.
“I am really happy to win today,” he said.
“It is always good to hold the trophy and tonight we did it and it was good.”.