Aussies to meet US in Hopman final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Aussies to meet US in Hopman final

By Tom Wald 04/01/2003 05:51:57 AM Comments (0)

Alicia Molik's golden summer faces an almighty reality check when she meets world No.1 Serena Williams in the Hopman Cup tennis final.

The lowest ranked player at the mixed teams event at No.94 has been a rock in No.2 seed Australia's march to the final against the top-ranked United States at the Burswood Dome.

However the power-packed game of the brash American is something altogether different from what she has seen this week.

World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt loves nothing more than a good stoush but it will be how Molik handles herself in front of a large partisan crowd which will determine Australia's fate.

The 1.81m Molik has met Williams just once - in 1999 when she lost in straight sets.

Neither player has dropped a set in the singles at the event but Molik faces a huge step up in class after defeating No.17 Silvia Farina Elia, No.8 Daniela Hantuchova and No.37 Daja Bedanova.

Meanwhile Hewitt, upset in three sets by the Czech Republic's Jiri Novak last night, will meet the athletic James Blake for the fifth time after downing the dreadlocked American in their past four outings.

Hewitt and Molik will be looking to become the second Australian pair to win the Hopman Cup in 15 attempts after Mark Philippoussis and Jelena Dokic triumphed in 1999.

And with Williams expected to down Molik and Hewitt defeat Blake, tournament director Paul McNamee's dream of the two No.1's squaring off in a live mixed doubles to decide the tournament is looking likely.

But despite Molik being ranked just inside the top 100 female players in the world, the No.1 player talked her up after defeating No.4 Kim Clijsters 7-5 6-3 in 67 minutes.

"I've always thought Alicia Molik was a great player," Williams said.

"I just thought her time hadn't come yet. I remember a few years ago in Sydney.

"I remember she was playing Martina Hingis and she was doing really well and I thought she could have had a chance to win the match.

"I think her game is coming together really well now - her serve, her body, her arm - I think everything is in place and I think's she is going to have a fabulous year this year.

"I'm looking forward to the match."

The United States earned passage into the final by defeating Belgium 2-1 after winning 10-5 in a match tiebreak in the mixed doubles.

Enigmatic Xavier Malisse earlier defeated Blake 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 to level the tie and force a deciding mixed doubles.

Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual and Tommy Robredo registered their first win of the tournament for a 2-1 result over Uzbekistan's Iroda Tulyaganova and Oleg Ogorodov.

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