PERTH (AUSTRALIA): Ukraine advanced to their second Hopman Cup final with a 2-1 win over Australia Gold in Perth on Thursday.
The home team needed to win the tie to stay alive, but Ukraine claimed both singles matches to ensure they finished their round robin phase unbeaten in three ties.
The Australian combination of Lleyton Hewitt and Jarmila Wolfe won the dead mixed-doubles rubber in a match tiebreak.
The pairing of Alexandr Dolgopolov and Elina Svitolina, who have both won all their singles matches this week, will play in Saturday’s final.
Ukraine’s previous appearance at the Hopman Cup was back in 1995, when siblings Andrei Medvedev and Natalia Medvedeva reached the final.
They were beaten 3-0 in the decider by the German pairing of Boris Becker and Anke Huber.
After Svitolina gave Ukraine the early advantage with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Wolfe, Dolgopolov came from a set down to beat Hewitt and put them into the final.
Dolgopolov said his form was not as good as in his previous two singles wins, but he knew he needed to eke out a win over Hewitt.
“Today was a tough match, he’s not easy to play, and it was not easy to come back,” he said.
“I didn’t want to go to third match at 1-1, we’d lost both our mixed doubles and we needed to win this match.
“It means a lot, I get a bit more nervous (playing for Ukraine) than in my own tournaments, and the whole country is watching.
“There is just one match left now and that’s the final.”
Svitolina continued her impressive form this week by outclassing Wolfe in quick time.
The world number 19 has been in brilliant singles form and has not dropped a set in the tournament, having also beaten the 11th-ranked Karolina Pliskova.
That left Australia Gold needing straight sets wins in the men’s singles and mixed doubles to be a chance of reaching the final.
That dream was alive briefly when Hewitt, in his eighth and final appearance in Perth, took the first set against Dolgopolov.
However, the 36th-ranked Ukrainian took the second set off the dual Grand Slam champion to scuttle Hewitt’s hopes of a fairytale Hopman Cup ending.
Dolgopolov then launched Ukraine into the final by taking the third set to complete a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.