Updated: Monday, 30 December 2013 03:52 | By Agence France-Presse

Panfil stuns Raonic

Journeyman Grzegorz Panfil stunned Milos Raonic on Sunday to put Poland on the verge of reaching the final of the mixed teams Hopman Cup.


Panfil stuns Raonic

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic hits a return against Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain during their third session women's singles match on day two of the Hopman Cup, in Perth, on December 29, 2013

Panfil, ranked 288th in the world, claimed the biggest scalp of his career and recorded one of the biggest upsets in Hopman Cup history to beat the 11th-ranked Raonic in straight sets to clinch the Group A tie for Poland.

Earlier, world number five Agnieszka Radwanska had given the Poles the lead in the tie with a hard-fought three-set win over exciting teenager Eugenie Bouchard.

Unbeaten after their opening two ties, Poland only need to beat Australia in their final tie on Thursday to advance to Saturday's final in the country's Hopman Cup debut.

Few expected Panfil could match one of the most exciting talents in the game in Raonic, a player ranked 277 places above him, in the men's singles.

The little-known 25-year-old was only included in the Hopman Cup field when highly-rated countryman Jerzy Janowicz was a late withdrawal due to injury.

Although they were nominally the tournament's top seeds, few expected the Polish to challenge without Janowicz.

However, Panfil claimed his second big scalp in as many days in beating Raonic in straight sets, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.

Panfil also defeated world number 25 Andreas Seppi on Saturday when the Italian retired due to illness after losing the first set.

Even Panfil was dumbfounded by his win.

"I don't know what I can say," he said.

"I was playing really good.

"I still can't believe it, it was the best match of my career."

Panfil produced some scintillating tennis that belied his lowly ranking, including a couple of superb volleys in the first set tiebreak.

An early break of Raonic's serve in the second set had the crowd sensing an upset, and although the Canadian lifted his game late, Panfil stayed composed and served out the match in style.

The Canadians gained some consolation by winning the mixed doubles in a match tiebreak, 6-3, 5-7, 10-3.

In the women's singles, Radwanska was given a good taste of the talent of 19-year-old Bouchard in a high-class match.

At one stage Radwanska reeled off eight games in a row to take the first set and open a 3-0 lead in the second, only for Bouchard to rally and force the second set into a tiebreak.

Bouchard saved two match points before levelling the match.

She saved another in the final set, before Radwanska finally prevailed with a stunning cross-court forehand winner, sealing her 6-3, 6-7 (9/7), 6-2 victory.

Earlier in the day, world number six Petra Kvitova powered into the new season with a comprehensive win over Anabel Medina Garrigues as the Czech Republic completed a clean sweep of Spain.

Kvitova was far too good for Medina Garrigues, who won the tournament with Fernando Verdasco earlier this year but battled knee soreness against the 2011 Wimbledon champion in their singles clash.

The Czech star simply had too much power for the veteran Spaniard, ranked 100th, and dropped just one game in a 6-1, 6-0 rout that took less than an hour.

Kvitova's boyfriend, Radek Stepanek, then secured the Group B tie for the Czechs with an easy 6-2, 6-2 win over little-known Spaniard Daniel Munoz-De La Nava.

It has been an indifferent couple of years for Kvitova following the breakthrough success at Wimbledon that enabled her to finish 2011 ranked second in the world behind Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki.

Kvitova, 23, was pleased with her form, saying she had worked hard on improving her fitness heading into the new year.

"My off-season preparation was very hard," she said.

"I can improve everything (fitness-wise).

"I can be faster, quicker, stronger, fitter."

Kvitova said she was focused on improving her efforts in the Grand Slams next year, after failing to advance beyond the quarter-finals in 2013.

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