Tournament (and Finals) Reactions:
And France takes the title. Congratulations!!!
First time I saw the Hopman Cup on TV. Could I say that these matches personally have been better than some of the ATP World Tour matches lately? I mean, we had Panfil vs. Raonic, Stepanek vs. Raonic (special exhibition), most of Tsonga's matches and we had a relatively good Tomic here. Also, the pairings of Stepanek-Kvitova and Tsonga-Cornet during Mixed Doubles was very pleasant to watch. We had Panfil's story (eliminating 2 Top 50 players while pushing Tsonga to a decider), Cornet's determination (shown during her Mixed Doubles matches and also during her match against Radwanska which I thought she should've just let go as to reserve energy for the doubles), Tsonga's class (his power really helped them win the tournament), Stepanek's playfulness (just play and work at the same time) and what I feel was the tournament story of Cornet and Panfil being big stars for a while. The atmosphere was fun too with a sort of more controlled Davis Cup feeling -- hope we had those in ATP Matches (although I am not sure if it is allowed to be that rowdy before points, hehe).
So, the Finals had Panfil vs. Tsonga first, which I hoped would be the 2nd (as Radwanska IMO would've more likely to beat Cornet than Panfil is vs. Tsonga and would add the dramatic atmosphere a little). So Panfil was understandably a little nervy (not enough first serves and I felt the groundstrokes weren't that big), but Tsonga is just outclassing him with his Aces and bigger groundstrokes. What I admire about Panfil though is how he held his serve even with breakpoints, unlike many against Top 10 players. That said, I was really surprised how he broke Tsonga on his only BP opportunity on the 2nd Set and held his serve, getting the 2nd. After that though it seemed he dropped his concentration a little and got broke to love I think, but was able to hold every service game ever since. Seems Tsonga had a very good serving day (or it could be Panfil is not experienced in reading good big serves) that made it impossible for Panfil to score but did have that lapse in the 2nd, but overall his seeming average game is good enough. Kudos to Panfil for getting a Set and not being blown out.
About the Radwanska vs. Cornet match -- probably one of the most dramatic women's match I saw, especially with the shots they played and Cornet's determination (and the emotion behind it). I like Poland to win, but seeing Cornet's comeback in the 2nd I really don't care whether she would've won that to make it 2-0 or lose to even the score. It had the similar feeling to the AO match between Djokovic/Wawrinka in a sense that the aggressor lost and played well but the opponent was just freakin' strong and more experienced. Hope Cornet would bounce back to Top 11 with this performance's momentum.
Mixed Doubles I thought would've been closer with the girls being exhausted that time, meaning Cornet (who I thought was a mixed doubles expert with her performances) would have her level down. However, Panfil-Radwanska seemed like an awkward pair against France (and even against Australia who I felt played better; add to the fact that Radwanksa is overpowered by Tsonga's serves, period and Panfil not really having that much juice on his groundies lately) that they were purely outclassed by the French (especially when Tsonga is there to just finish the point in the net quite easily whatever Poland throws at France).
All-in-all France won the Mixed Doubles and the tournament very comfortably even when Cornet seemed to be tired, and France got their 1st Hopman Cup. I hoped Panfil would've said more about his experience during the closing speech, while it was fun seeing Cornet react on receiving those little (golden) rackets. I would wish Tsonga would pair up with Cornet sometime in a Slam -- could happen earlier if Tsonga would win one in the singles first so he may have time for the mixed doubles (seeing as he might not be as serious to get one after getting one), haha. Also congrats to Panfil for his performance and I hope he has momentum after this (I feel with his potential he is a Top 100 player) and more people would take notice to support (also congrats to a big payday relatively for him). Looking forward to the 4 finalist's performance in AO (I am hoping for Panfil to have a Qualies WC, haha).