Hopman Cup: USA grabs impressive start, defeats Russia 2-1

USA won both of the singles matches as they ousted Russia 2-1 in their opening encounter of the 2018 Hopman Cup.

Hopman Cup: USA grabs impressive start, defeats Russia 2-1
Jack Sock and Coco Vandeweghe clinched the win for USA today | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac

USA had a clean start to their 2018 Hopman Cup campaign against a tough opponent, Russia. The Americans won both their singles matches before falling in the Mixed Doubles clash, though the sole win could prove crucial for Russia as they are competing in the Round Robin format, where every match is important and pivotal.

Flying start for Vandeweghe

World number 10 Coco Vandeweghe looks poised for an amazing 2018 after her fantastic display against the 15th-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during the opening rubber. Getting off the mark quicker than her opponent who never looked like she got the rhythm, the American made the first breakthrough in the fifth game.

Coco Vandeweghe reaches out for a shot during her 6-3, 6-3 win over Pavlyuchenkova | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac
Coco Vandeweghe reaches out for a shot during her 6-3, 6-3 win over Pavlyuchenkova | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac

However, she was pegged back by the Russian after Pavlyuchenkova sent in a flawless passing winner on break point. The streaks of service breaks stopped at three with Vandeweghe having the last laugh, ultimately closing out the first set 6-3 after a fairly lengthy 44 minutes.

The second set was more straightforward than the first, though Pavlyuchenkova had a ton of chances which she was unable to convert. The Russian missed out on four break points in the early stages, before Vandeweghe pounced on her opportunities, leading by a set and a break with her explosive tennis working extremely well.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was decent during her match today, but fell 3-6, 3-6 to Vandeweghe | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was decent during her match today but fell 3-6, 3-6 to Vandeweghe | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac

Pavlyuchenkova earned a total of eight break points, but Vandeweghe was simply clinical on those nervy points as her powerful serving saved her from the brink on multiple occasions. Ultimately, the American sealed the impressive win after an hour and 38 minutes, blasting 32 winners along the way.

Sock follows up with another good win

A slow start by Russia’s Karen Khachanov got himself into some deep trouble after Jack Sock exploited his vulnerable second serves early on, breaking to 15 in the third game. It seemed like the off-season did not stop Sock’s momentum after he strolled to claim the first set after just 30 minutes, losing just five points behind his consistent serves.

Karen Khachanov returns a serve during his loss to Jack Sock | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac
Karen Khachanov returns a serve during his loss to Jack Sock | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac

The momentum shifted hands after Khachanov showed his tough character by eking out a tricky service hold in the opening game of the second set, and proceeded to dominate play against a lackluster Sock, who seemed out-of-sorts. A 5-0 lead for the Russian ensued, though he had the golden opportunity to seal a bagel after Sock conceded a set point on serve. Nonetheless, the American spared himself from more embarrassment with a narrow hold. Though, Khachanov remained composed and served out the set ultimately.

Overcoming the disappointment of the one-sided second-set loss, Sock had a great start to the decider after he earned break points in two different games, but was unable to convert. After seven consecutive holds, it was, unsurprisingly, the American who took the lead at the eleventh hour while also earning the golden opportunity to serve out the match. Without any pressure, Sock easily served out the match to love, sealing the win for the USA.

Jack Sock celebrates sealing the win over Khachanov after the match | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac
Jack Sock celebrates sealing the win over Khachanov after the match | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac

Russia takes surprising win

The Mixed Doubles clash had a surprising winner after the inexperienced team of Pavlyuchenkova and Khachanov triumphed against Sock and Vandeweghe, prevailing in three sets. Playing in the Fast4 format for the first time in their careers, the Russian pairing lost serve just once and took a relatively easy match against the seemingly-relaxed American pairing.

Pavlyuchenkova and Khachanov looked impressive in their Mixed Doubles win today | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac
Pavlyuchenkova and Khachanov looked impressive in their Mixed Doubles win today | Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images AsiaPac