SERBIA needed a champions tie-break in the deciding mixed doubles rubber to beat Australia after Novak Djokovic suffered a surprise defeat to Bernard Tomic in the Hopman Cup in Perth.
Djokovic lost in straight sets to Tomic and Serbia had to rely on Ana Ivanovic to beat Ashleigh Barty before edging to a 2-1 win in a tight mixed doubles rubber.
Tomic never really looked in trouble against the top-ranked player in the men’s section and an upset in Group A looked on the cards.
But Ivanovic made short work of her young opponent and eased to a 6-2, 6-3 victory.
The Serbians then teamed up and looked on course for a comfortable win when they took the first set 6-4.
But Tomic and Barty battled back to win the second set 10/8 on a tie-break.
That resulted in a champions tie-break which Djokovic and Ivanovic won 10-6 to record Serbia’s second group win of the tournament.
Francesca Schiavone and Andreas Seppi had earlier earned Italy a 2-1 win over Germany in the other Group A match.
Italy had to come from behind to clinch the tie after Seppi lost his singles to Tommy Haas.
Schiavone defeated Tatjana Malek before teaming up with Seppi to win the mixed doubles.
Seppi had been in a position to win both sets against Haas before losing 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (9/7), Schiavone then defeating Malek 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. The doubles went 6-4, 7-5 in Italy’s favour.
The win was Italy’s first of the tournament after defeat to top seeds Serbia, but the loss for Germany left them bottom of Pool A and with no chance of making Saturday’s final.
Britain’s Heather Watson was left to rue missed chances as she slipped to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat against the Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens in the second round of the ASB Classic in Auckland.
The British No 1, who overcame fifth seed Sorana Cirstea in the first round, converted five of 12 break-point chances in the match against an opponent ranked 14 places beneath her at 63rd in the world.
Watson also struggled on second serve, winning just four points in the first and third sets combined in a match which lasted two hours and 14 minutes. The Guernsey player will remain in Auckland as she and partner Marina Erakovic are into the quarter-finals of the doubles, before heading to Hobart for her final tournament ahead of the Australian Open.
Top-seeded Li Na stumbled into the Shenzhen Open quarter-finals with a messy 6-3, 6-4 win over Julia Cohen of the United States.
Victoria Azarenka began her build-up to the Australian Open with an imposing 6-3 6-3 victory over big-serving Sabine Lisicki in the Brisbane International second round. The defending Australian Open champion made light work of the German to set up a quarter-final clash against qualifier Ksenia Pervak.
Nikolay Davydenko reached the Qatar Open quarter-finals by beating fourth-seeded fellow Russian Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 6-3, while second-seeded Janko Tipsarevic beat French player Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2, 6-3 in the second round of the Chennai Open.
Andy Murray gets his 2013 under way this morning British time as he opens the defence of his Brisbane International title against Australian qualifier and world No 199 John Millman.