Gavrilova beats Bouchard as hosts off to fast Hopman Cup start

Perth (Australia) (AFP) –


Hosts Australia made a strong start to the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Sunday, beating Canada 2-1.

World number 25 Daria Gavrilova gave the home team the initial ascendancy with a straight-sets win over a disappointing Eugenie Bouchard.

Injury-plagued Australian youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis then secured the tie with a three-sets win over Vasek Pospisil.

The dead mixed doubles rubber was claimed by the Canadians.

Gavrilova came out firing against Bouchard, who has been ranked as high as fifth in the world but has slipped to 83rd on the back of a couple of lean years.

The Australian was cruising to a rare straight-sets win, until a glut of double faults opened the door for the Canadian to fight her way back into the second set.

Gavrilova steadied and a timely net cord sealed the deal 6-1, 6-4 in 78 minutes.

Bouchard, 23, wasn't overly concerned by the loss as she looks to rebuild her game in.

"I felt really rusty out there and I didn't quite get into the match in the beginning, but I was happy to feel into the match in the second," she said.

"I know I have a lot of things to work on.

"I barely played any matches the last six months of the past year, it's been a long time without a lot of matches.

"It's always about trying to play better for the future, I changed my team in the off season and I have been working on a lot of different things. It's definitely a long-term look.?

Ranked 209th in the world, Kokkinakis was making his second Hopman Cup appearance, having filled in for the United States and Germany in 2013 as a 16-year-old.

The 21-year-old showcased some of his undoubted potential to beat the 108th-ranked Pospisil, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Playing his first match since the US Open, Kokkinakis was happy to be heading into a new year injury free for a change, having suffered a string of ailments including shoulder problems.

"I missed my last two years with injury," he said.

"It's been pretty shattering, but I'm excited to be back on Australia's hard courts.

"It's a good start and hopefully I can stay healthy this year - it's my only goal."

Bouchard and Pospisil won the mixed doubles, 4-3 (5/1), 4-3 (5/4), amid confusion among both players and officials over the rules under the Fast4 format.