Haehnel secures French victory over US - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Haehnel secures French victory over US

By Tim Clarke 31/12/2006 06:26:03 AM Comments (0)

On an opening day of shocks at the Hopman Cup, Frenchman Jerome Haehnel has upset American Mardy Fish to secure a 2-1 victory for the French underdogs against the fourth-seeded US team.

Haehnel, whose only claim to fame in his career to date - apart from a fear of flying - was a first-round defeat of Andre Agassi in the 2004 French Open, was given little hope against Fish, who sits 166 places higher on the world rankings.

But after his late inclusion into the mixed team event, he emulated countrywoman Tatiana Golovin by overcoming the US challenge, and turning the tournament seedings on their head for the second time so far.

Following Australia's surprise victory over top seed Russia, Golovin was able to provide some surety in her tie against Ashley Harkleroad.

A tortuous 111-minute disposal of the US youngster provided Haehnel with the chance to secure a second day one boilover, and he made a great start taking the first set 7-5.

However, it appeared the ranking gap would tell, with the American winning the second 6-4.

Haehnel hung on throughout a lengthy decider before prevailing in the tie break - after Fish added to his amazing tally of 92 unforced errors at the crucial time.

He admitted he was shocked to win, after interrupting a holiday to compete.

"It is a big win, I really didn't expect to come, and I really didn't expect to win so it is very cool for me," Haehnel said.

"I was going on holiday ... it was a tough decision (to play) but for my country it is very important that I come."

Haehnel's unexpected trip to Australia, prompted after the German team pulled out last week, was only the third time he has made the long haul trip to spread his tennis wings.

The 26-year-old from Mulhouse, near the German border, owes his modest 211th ranking to sticking close to home and playing events reachable by train.

But after this win, he may reconsider his future travel plans.

The first set was a tight affair, until Haehnel found a quality running forehand down the line which left Fish floundering at 6-5 down, and ultimately earned the Frenchman the first set.

The second took a similar route, and Haehnel had the chance to mirror the first with a break point in the ninth game, until Fish found his serve in the nick of time.

That provided the turnaround for Fish to claim the second 6-4.

A fluctuating third ended all square, but as he had all night, Fish erred long or into the net at crucial times, handing Haehnel four set points and then the match when he netted.

Earlier, Golovin recorded her expected victory against Harkleroad, but the win was neither easy or pretty.

Early-season cobwebs were evident in both women, with clean winners rare amongst a sea of unforced errors.

Golovin was eventually good enough to grind out a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win in nine minutes short of two hours.

France later forfeited the dead mixed doubles rubber due to injury to claim the tie 2-1.

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