Safin family beats Italy at Hopman Cup

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The brother and sister combination of Marat Safin and Dinara Safina gave Russia a straight-sets win over Italy at the Hopman Cup on Sunday.

Updated: January 04, 2009 07:45 IST
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The brother and sister combination of Marat Safin and Dinara Safina gave Russia a straight-sets win over Italy at the Hopman Cup on Sunday.

Safin, ending a two-month layoff, had 14 aces on his way to a 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over Simone Bolelli in the second singles match. Safina beat Flavia Pennetta 7-5, 6-3 to give Russia a 1-0 lead in the opener.

Safina and Safin played Pennetta and Bolelli in a later mixed doubles match.

Safin arrived in Perth on Saturday night with bruises and cuts on his face, including a heavy bruise under his left eye. The 28-year-old Safin attended the tournament ball later in the evening, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and racket bag slung over his shoulder after a brief training session.

After Sunday's match, he first joked that the facial injuries came from "working out hard," but then said, without elaborating: "I got in trouble in Moscow. It was much worse ..."

The 28-year-old Safin has slipped to No. 29 and last October contemplated retirement following his straight-sets loss at the Paris Masters.

"My serve saved my game today," Safin said. "I couldn't ask for a better start than that."

Earlier, Pennetta was serving for the first set at 5-4 when Safina won the next three games to take the opener. In the second, the Russian fell behind 3-0 before reeling off six straight games to take the match.

"It was not an easy match, she's a very good player," Safina said. "I think at the beginning we were both struggling with our rhythm."

On Saturday's first day of the tournament, Alize Cornet overcame jet lag and French teammate Gilles Simon some rustiness from the offseason to beat Taiwan.

Cornet beat Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 6-4 and Simon, who moved up in the rankings from No. 29 to 7 last year, defeated Lu Yen-hsun 6-3, 7-6 (8). Cornet and Simon beat Hsieh and Lu 6-4, 7-6 (9) in mixed doubles to complete a 3-0 win.

France plays Italy on Tuesday.

Lleyton Hewitt, who hasn't played since the Beijing Olympics due to a hip injury and subsequent surgery, partners Casey Dellacqua when Australia takes on Germany in one of two matches Monday. Hewitt, whose ranking has slipped to 67, plays No. 38 Nicolas Kiefer.

The defending champion United States, represented by Meghann Shaughnessy and James Blake, takes on Slovakia in the other Monday match.

The U.S, Australia, Germany and Slovakia are playing in Group A while Russia, France, Italy and Taiwan are in Group B. The winners of each group play in the final on Friday.

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