Sun, Nov 26, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Taiwanese pair win place in Asian Hopman Cup final

DYNAMIC DUO Hwang I-hsuan and Ti Chen did not drop a match in beating the Philippines and Thailand to set up a clash with India today


Favorites India and second seeds Taiwan will meet in the Asian Hopman Cup final after easy victories in their last league outings yesterday.

India and Taiwan scored 3-0 wins over Japan and Thailand, respectively, to top their three-team groups to gain places in today's final.

The winner of the inaugural tournament will get a direct entry for the main Hopman Cup to be played in Australia next January.

In group B, Taiwan's Hwang I-hsuan, ranked 316 in the world drubbed her opponent Nudnida Lauangnam, who is ranked five places lower, 6-2, 6-1. Ti Chen ranked 310 won the men's singles 6-1, 6-4 against Weerapat Doakmaiklee ranked more than 500 places lower.

The Taiwanese pair, who scored an easy 3-0 win over the Philippines on Thursday, enjoyed a walk-over in the mixed doubles.

India scored an expected win over Japan in group A as Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna wrapped up their matches in straights sets and then ensured a clean slate by winning the mixed doubles.

Mirza, the highest-ranked player among both men and women in the championship at 67, scored a 7-5, 6-2 win over 245th-ranked Tomoko Yonemura in 75 minutes.

"We have to watch out in the final tomorrow," said Mirza. "[Taiwan] will be tough and we can't take things easy."

Bopanna, ranked 259 in the world, clinched the decisive lead for India with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 win over 488th-ranked Yuichi Sugita.

A hard-fought last game of the match saw 10 deuces but Bopanna managed his second service break of the second set to ensure the match did not stretch beyond 77 minutes.

"I got breaks when I needed them and it was tough for him to break my serve," said Bopanna, 26, a last-minute replacement for Leander Paes in the Indian team.

Mirza and Bopanna won the mixed doubles 6-0, 6-1 against the Japanese pair, who had lost 2-1 to China on Friday.

China, who had lost 3-0 to India on the opening day, put up an inconsistent display but still overcame an unimpressive Japan under lights in the second tie of group A.

In group B on Friday, Thailand beat the Philippines 2-1.

Laungnam scored an impressive 6-4, 6-4 win over Czarina Arevalo and Doakmaiklee overcame Patrick Tierro 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 7-5 in the men's singles to ensure a decisive lead.

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