PERTH (AFP) – Veteran Lucie Safarova carried her career-best form of 2014 into the new year to guide the Czech Republic to an upset 2-1 win over Canada at the mixed teams Hopman Cup at the Perth Arena on Sunday.
Safarova, who turns 28 next month, climbed to a career-high ranking of 14th last September, making the second week of three of the Grand Slams including a semi-final appearance at Wimbledon.
The cagey left-hander opened her new campaign in the best possible fashion, with a commanding straight sets win over rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard.
Bouchard was a revelation at last year’s Hopman Cup on her way to a breakthrough year that saw the 20-year-old reach the Wimbledon final, where she was beaten by Petra Kvitova.
However, the world number seven was no match for the 16th-ranked Safarova and was beaten 6-0, 6-4 in just 68 minutes.
The Canadian won the first three points of the match to reach 0-40 on the Safarova serve, but the Czech then took total control to hold on her way to winning the first eight games of the match.
The Safarova forehand provided regular winners, while Bouchard was plagued by unforced errors and struggled to win points on her serve, which she held only twice.
Bouchard showed some fight to break Safarova when she served for the match at 5-3, but the Czech broke straight back to secure the win.
Safarova was thrilled with her form after five days of training in Perth.
“It seems like I’m growing,” she said.
“Through the years you get more experience and my tennis is better and better.
“(Top 10) is the next goal, I mean I obviously want to improve in the rankings and last year I reached my best.
“That’s the dream and I hope I can reach it this year.”
The Canadians levelled the tie when world number 53 Vasek Pospisil beat the 240th-ranked Adam Pavlasek, a late replacement for Radek Stepanek, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.
However, the Czechs were far too good in the deciding mixed doubles, winning 6-4, 6-2 as they capitalised on the fragile Bouchard serve.