Perth: Petra Kvitova continued her impeccable start to the year by defeating Marion Bartoli in straight sets to give Czech Republic a 1-0 lead in the Hopman Cup final against France.    

Bartoli led 5-3 in the first set but Kvitova hit a purple patch of scything first serves and booming forehands to win four games in a row. She swept through the second set for a 7-5 6-1 victory in one hour and 29 minutes.     

Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych has the opportunity to wrap up the final in the men's singles against Richard Gasquet.    

Kvitova left the USD 1 million mixed team event with a 4-0 singles record and a head of steam going into the Sydney International next week.     

She will replace Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki as the world number one if she wins the final in Sydney, where Wozniacki is the top seed. Kvitova is aiming to become the first female world number one from Czech Republic since her role model, Martina Navratilova, dominated women's tennis in the 1980s.    

Kvitova first met Navratilova in the Wimbledon locker room during her run to the title at the All England Club last year.    

"We talked a little bit and it was really enjoyable," she said.     

"She really supported me a lot. In the final at Wimbledon, Martina and Jana Novotna were in the box supporting me. It was really nice they took the time to be there.     

"Martina was my idol when I was growing up so for me, it was a beautiful moment to have her there. I saw her again after I won the final and that was such a beautiful time, talking to her as a winner of Wimbledon.     

"I cried after that. We still email each other even if we don't talk too much. I don't want to bother her too much."    

 Kvitova also paid tribute to Bartoli.    

"I think she has improved a lot over the off-season," she said. "I played more aggressively on the return in the second set. I just wanted to make every ball from my side of the net as heavy as possible."       

Murray and Dolgopolov last met in the quarter-finals of the 2011 Australian Open, with Murray winning in four close games.
    
"He's been playing impressively the last two matches so I think it will be interesting," the Ukrainian said.
    
The 23-year-old dominated Simon with his powerful serve and blistering groundstrokes.
    
Simon had gone into the match as the favourite after cruising through his opening three rounds without dropping a set.
    
By contrast, the third seed Dolgopolov had struggled throughout and was involved in two of the three longest matches of the tournament, including having to save three match points in his second-round clash with Igor Andreev.
    
But by midway through the first set it became obvious that the Frenchman was struggling with his game and was finding it hard to cope with Dolgopolov's shot-making.
Simon, whose forehand misfired throughout, was broken twice in the opening set and once in the second as Dolgopolov eased his way to a deserved victory.
    
"I don't think Gilles was in top form today, he was missing more than usual so it was good for me," the Ukrainian said.
    
"I played good at important moments so I was happy with the match."
    
Dolgopolov, the world number 15, said he had briefly considered pulling out when he suffered the groin injury, but said it had improved as he played on.

"I was feeling bad for three to five games -- it's a bit scary when you are running and you have that feeling of pain, but then I had some treatment and taped it up and it started to feel better, so I was more relaxed."

(Agencies)