PERTH - World number five Agnieszka Radwanska got her new season off to a fine start with a straight sets win over Flavia Pennetta as Poland beat Italy at the mixed teams Hopman Cup on Saturday. After Radwanska edged past the 31st-ranked Pennetta, the Poles clinched the tie in unlikely circumstances, when the 288th-ranked Grzegorz Panfil was handed victory over Andreas Seppi in the men's singles after the Italian retired due to illness.
Panfil, who was a late call-up for the tournament following the withdrawal of Jerzy Janowicz due to injury, won the first set and scores were level in the second when Seppi retired. That gave Poland, nominally the tournament's top seeds but outsiders for the tie after Janowicz's withdrawal, an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the Group A encounter. They were also handed the mixed doubles in a walkover for a 3-0 win in the first tie of the tournament.
Radwanska only arrived in Perth the night before her match against Pennetta, but looked in good touch in cruising to a 6-2, 6-2 win against the Italian, who has been ranked as high as 10th in the world. The match was closer than the scoreline suggested, with the Italian creating six break points to Radwanska's four. While the Pole claimed all of hers Pennetta was unable to convert any as she was punished by her own errors against the defensive skills of the ultra-consistent Radwanska.
The 24-year-old Radwanska sealed the win with a simple forehand into the open court and was pleased to perform so well given the circumstances of her opening match. "I didn't have much time to adjust and I only slept for like three hours," she said after a match that was played under an open roof on a warm day. "In Poland it was about five degrees so I was very happy I could play my best tennis, playing alright for the first day here."
The 25th-ranked Seppi should have been far too good for Panfil, but the Italian never looked comfortable on the court after being broken in the very first game. After dropping the first set, Seppi called for the trainer early in the second set and a few minutes later retired at 2-2, complaining he had been feeling unwell for a couple of days.
Seppi told tournament officials he was hopeful of being fit to play in Italy's next tie against Australia on Tuesday.