Hewitt beaten, US lifts Hopman Cup

James Blake upset Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 6-4 and Serena Williams beat Alicia Molik 6-2 6-3 to help the United States win its second Hopman Cup team tennis title.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Perth:James Blake upset Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 6-4 and Serena Williams beat Alicia Molik 6-2 6-3 to give the United States its second Hopman Cup team tennis title today. The victories, along with a 6-3 6-2 win in mixed doubles, gave the Americans a 3-0 win. It was Blake's first win in five matches against Hewitt and came in just 64 minutes. Molik, ranked No. 94, had not dropped a set in the mixed teams event heading into the opening singles today, but world top-ranked Williams was an easy winner. It was the sixth appearance in the final for the United States in the 15 years of the competition, and their third final in three years. Their only previous win came in 1997 when Justin Gimelstob and Chanda Rubin beat Wayne Ferreira and Amanda Coetzer of South Africa. Hewitt, who also lost to Jiri Novak in the round-robin stage of the competition, could not handle the variety and quality of Blake's game. The American mixed up his game by attacking the net, trading groundstrokes and unleashing a strong forehand that often left Hewitt helpless. But Hewitt provided strong resistance at times, and Blake struggled to take the first set. He broke just once to lead 4-2, but had to hold off two break points in the next game and three more at 5-3, before taking the set on his third set point. Blake's game became stronger in the second set as he swept to a 4-0 lead. Hewitt then dropped just one point in the next two games to bring himself back into contention, and although Blake kept in front he again struggled to hold off Hewitt's late challenge. Blake broke to lead 5-2 when Hewitt hit his third double-fault, but he failed to serve out for victory at his first attempt. Hewitt broke and held for 4-5, before a relieved Blake closed out the 64-minute battle when Hewitt's return backhand went into the net. "I think that might be the first time I've taken out a reigning No. 1," said Blake. "It feels pretty good. I don't think he has his best form but I'll take it. "It gives me some confidence going into the rest of the year, knowing I can beat a top player like that." Blake believes that Hewitt will be the one to beat at the upcoming Australian Open, although Hewitt has never advanced beyond the fourth round there. "He can play well on the surface, obviously," said Blake. "He's going to have the crowd support, although that could be double-edged sword." Williams took only 50 minutes to beat Molik, dropping just one point on serve in the first set and two in the second. She won 95 per cent of her first serves and 100 per cent of her second, and struck 18 winners against just four from her opponent. She also won every service game in the first set with an ace, and finished the set with three consecutive aces. (AP)

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