Italy stay alive in Hopman Cup
Andreas Seppi of Italy hits a return against Bernard Tomic of Australia during their seventh session men's singles match on day four of the Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth on December 31, 2013
After the singles matches were split, the Italian pairing of Flavia Pennetta and Andreas Seppi beat Samantha Stosur and Bernard Tomic in the deciding mixed doubles rubber.
Italy will need to clean sweep Canada on Thursday and hope Australia do the same to unbeaten Poland to have a chance of advancing to Saturday's final, while the host nation are out of contention after dropping both their Group A ties.
In the women's singles, 31st-ranked Pennetta continued her dominance of Stosur, beating the former US Open winner and world number 18 in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.
Pennetta has won all five of their singles encounters and took advantage of the service woes of the Australian.
Stosur is regarded as one of the best servers in women's tennis, but she also has a habit of starting each season slowly.
Pennetta broke the Australian's serve four times, most crucially when Stosur served three double faults in the ninth game of the second set.
Not surprisingly, Pennetta was pleased to continue her winning streak against Stosur as she builds towards the Australian Open in Melbourne next month.
"We always have a good fight and then I always win," she said of the match.
"Today was a good match for the crowd and for us to be ready for next week (at the Australian Open)."
The enigmatic Tomic squared the tie by coming from a set down to beat Seppi, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
At times in the second set the Australian world number 51 looked like he was struggling with his fitness against the 25th-ranked Seppi.
However, Tomic said it was just the legacy of a very heavy training regime in recent days, including two hours on the practice court before the clash with Seppi.
"Everything is main focus for playing the best that I can in Australian Open and in Sydney," he said, referring to the Sydney International played ahead of the Grand Slam event.
"So this week is a training week for me.
"I'm using every match that I can, playing a little bit tired... I've got to push myself.
"I know I was feeling a bit tired out there but it's going to make me stronger for the big one in a few weeks."
The deciding rubber pitted two experienced doubles players against each other in Pennetta and Stosur, but it was the Italians that won the day, 6-3, 6-4.