Sun, Jan 09, 2005 - Page 23 News List

Slovakia wins Hopman championship

PRO TENNIS TOUR Daniela Hantuchova downed Gisela Dulko 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 and Dominik Hrbaty beat Guillermo Coria 6-4, 6-1 during the finals at the Burswood Dome

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Russian tennis sensation Maria Sharapova smiles during the sale of tennis rackets autographed by the participants of the Watsons Water Championships Challenge women's tennis exhibition in Hong Kong on Saturday. The tournament was won by Russian Elena Dementieva who beat defending champion Venus Williams of the US 3-6, 2-6.

PHOTO: AP

Daniela Hantuchova and Dominik Hrbaty each won their opening matches yesterday to give Slovakia the Hopman Cup team tennis championship over Argentina.

The Slovakians also won the mixed doubles in a walkover when Coria withdrew with a back strain.

Hrbaty did not drop a set in any of his four singles matches at this year's event.

Hantuchova conceded the first set in just 17 minutes against Dulko, who lost all four of her singles matches.

Hantuchova, who lost last year's final against the US playing with Karol Kucera, was pleased to give the Slovakians the early lead.

"I'm just so happy that I got through this," she said. "I didn't really feel like I was playing my best and I just tried to hang in there and fight for every point."

It was the second Hopman Cup win by Slovakia -- Kucera and Karina Hadsudova won in 1998.

Hrbaty said he had received text messages of support all week from Slovakian Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda. And Hantuchova said it was a special day for her small European homeland.

"It's been like a dream week for me," she said. "I had so much fun with Dominik and I can't tell you how happy I am to be here winning the Hopman Cup. It's something special and it's amazing for our country because there's just five million people."

Hrbaty said he lifts his game whenever he represents his country.

"I'm the kind of guy who likes to go in the team competitions," he said. "When I play Davis Cup I can get out 120 percent out of myself, I don't know how. If I could play like I do in Davis Cup every time I came to a tournament, I would be for sure top 10 all year round."

Men's Hardcourt

Second-seeded Joachim Johansson of Sweden and American Taylor Dent will contest the final of the Australian men's hardcourt tennis championships following straight-set semifinal wins yesterday.

Johansson beat Olivier Rochus of Belgium 6-1, 7-6 (5) at Memorial Drive while the fifth-seeded Dent, son of former Australian Davis Cup player Phil Dent, defeated Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela 6-1, 6-1.

Johansson won six straight games to take the first set in 24 minutes. Rochus had a service break in the fifth game of the second set, but Johansson broke back in the next game to set up a tiebreaker.

With Rochus leading 5-4 in the tiebreaker and serving, a Johansson groundstroke, which looked to have landed past the baseline, was called in, allowing the Swedish player to level at 5-5.

It appeared to bother Rochus, who lost the remaining two points.

"It was so close ... one mistake like this and the match is over, it's tough," Rochus said. "For me, it was clearly out."

Women's Hardcourt

Second-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland lost the first set in 17 minutes to local favorite Samantha Stosur on yesterday before rebounding for a 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 win in the women's hardcourt final.

It was Schnyder's ninth career WTA victory.

Schnyder, serving for the match at 6-5, trailed 0-40 but held her serve after three deuces. She broke Stosur in the sixth game of the second set to take a 4-2 lead before leveling the match at a set each following an overrule by a linesman.

The baseline linesman overruled his initial call on a Stosur winner that would have given the Australian a vital break. But chair umpire Scott Ray ordered the point to be replayed and Schnyder went on to hold her service.

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