Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Taiwan's Hwang, Chen prevail at Hopman Cup

AGENCIES , HYDERABAD, INDIA

Taiwanese tennis player Hwang I-hsuan faces opponent Czarina Arevalo of the Philippines during their Hopman Cup match in Hyderabad, India, on Thursday.

PHOTO: AFP

Top-seeded India and Taiwan, the second seed, scored runaway wins on Thursday on the first day of the inaugural Asian Hopman Cup team tennis tournament.

India defeated China 3-0 in Group A, while Taiwan blanked the Philippines 3-0 in a Group B preliminary round contest.

Two group toppers from the round-robin competition will play in the final, and the winner will advance to the International Tennis Federation's Hopman Cup mixed teams championship.

The Hopman Cup will be played in Perth from Dec. 29.

Taiwan was given a strong start by Hwang I-hsuan, who drubbed Filipino Czarina Arevalo 6-0, 6-2, but Chen Ti faced a tough contest from Patrick Tierro in men's singles.

Chen was stretched to three sets before he finally prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

The doubles encounter also produced a keen contest, but Taiwan's pair of Hwang and Chen emerged 7-5, 6-4 winners against Arevalo and Tierro.

Local star Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna enabled top seeds India to blank China 3-0 in a league tie of the Asian Hopman Cup tournament here on Thursday.

Mirza drew first blood for the hosts with a 6-2, 6-2 drubbing of lower ranked Shuai Zhang in the women's singles, while Bopanna scored an easy 6-3, 6-2 victory over Mao-Xin Gong in the men's match.

After gaining the winning lead, the pair clinched the mixed doubles 6-2, 6-4 for a resounding win in their first outing of the inaugural tournament.

The tournament will decide an Asian qualifier for the main Hopman Cup event in Australia next January.

Mirza, playing in her hometown, broke her opponent in the fifth and seventh games of the first set and in the third and fifth of the second.

Mirza's superior ground strokes helped her win in just over an hour and the only time the 67th-ranked player slogged it out against 205th-ranked Zhang was in the penultimate game, which Zhang held after 10 deuces.

"I played well but made the match a little interesting towards the end," quipped Mirza, who had won her maiden WTA title here last year.

"This tournament is a great opportunity for us and though there have been some pullouts, it does not make the event any less important," said Mirza.

In the second match, 259th-ranked Bopanna banged in eight aces against Gong, who is ranked 997th in the world.

"I went into the match not knowing what to expect," said Bopanna, who dominated under the floodlights with his serves.

"Rankings don't matter in a team event and so I went in cautiously. But I thought I put him under pressure with my serves," said Bopanna, who replaced an injured Leander Paes in the team.

Japan are grouped along with India and China in group A, while Thailand are in group B along with Taiwan and the Philippines.

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