Slovakia ousts Australia, Italy beats France at Hopman Cup

The Canadian Press
1/6/2009 11:11:20 AM
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PERTH, Australia - Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hrbaty combined for a 2-1 win over Australia on Tuesday that moved Slovakia closer to a Hopman Cup final and ousted the hosts from contention.

After splitting the singles matches, Cibulkova and Hrbaty rallied to beat Casey Dellacqua and Lleyton Hewitt 6-7 (5), 6-3, 10-4 in the deciding mixed doubles match.

It was the second upset in as many nights at the international mixed team tournament for the Slovaks, who beat the top-seeded United States 3-0 on Monday night.

Australia lost its opening match to Germany and cannot reach the final from Group A.

In Group B, Italy stayed in contention with a 2-1 comeback win over France. Russia, which opened with a 2-1 win over the Italians, will play Taiwan on Wednesday.

Slovakia's two upsets have started with wins by Cibulkova.

She beat Dellacqua 7-5, 6-2 on Tuesday night to give her team a 1-0 lead. The Australians worked back into the match when Hewitt finally overcame Hrbaty 7-6 (4), 6-7 (1), 6-4.

Hewitt was two points from victory in the ninth game of the second set before being forced into a third by Hrbaty's comeback in the almost three-hour match.

Hewitt, a former world No. 1, is only two singles matches into a comeback after a five-month layoff with a hip problem.

But his two singles wins have been overshadowed by Hrbaty, whose ranking has slipped to No. 250 since he had an operation on his right shoulder to remove a bone spur late in 2007.

Earlier Tuesday, Simone Bolelli beat Gilles Simon in straight sets to cancel out France's advantage, then combined with Flavia Pennetta to guide the Italians to a win.

When Alize Cornet gave France a 1-0 lead with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Pennetta in the women's singles, Italy was only one loss from slumping out of contention.

But Bolelli beat No. 7-ranked Simon 6-3, 6-3 in the men's singles and then helped Pennetta in a 6-4, 7-6 (2) mixed doubles win.

''Finally I won against a top 10. First time,'' Bolelli said. ''I played very well, I served very good. I played aggressive . . . I played almost perfectly I think.''

France opened with a 3-0 win over Taiwan. Now there's three teams in the group with a one win, although Russia's brother-sister team of Marat Safin and Dinara Safina has a match in hand.


Dominika Cibulkova (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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