American Team Reaches Final at Hopman Cup

Friday, January 9th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PERTH, Australia (AP) _ The American team of Lindsay Davenport and James Blake reached the final at the Hopman Cup on Friday by beating Russia 3-0.

The Americans will face Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova and Karol Kucera in the final, after Australia withdrew from the competition because of Alicia Molik's foot injury.

The United States needed to win just one match against Russia to reach the final. Instead, Davenport and Blake swept all three. Davenport beat Anastasia Myskina 6-4, 6-4 in women's singles, while Blake defeated Marat Safin 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 in men's singles.

Blake and Davenport then combined for a 7-5, 6-4 win over the Russians in mixed doubles.

The United States didn't lose a match in the round-robin stage and could become the first nation to win back-to-back Hopman Cup titles. Last year Blake and Serena Williams won the cup.

Molik limped off the court while leading Hantuchova by a set and 3-0 on Thursday and had to quit the match. She was unable to play in the mixed doubles, giving Slovakia a 2-1 win. Kucera had lost his men's singles match to former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt.

Molik, 22, initially thought she'd recover in time to play in the final, but an MRI showed a tear in the tendons of her left foot.

A similar injury to her right foot ended Molik's 2003 season in October.

``I don't think I will be playing next week in Sydney. I will resume tournament play as soon as my foot is better,'' she said. ``Whether that is in three weeks time, two weeks time, or two months time, we will have to wait and see.''

Belgium's Kim Clijsters, the second-ranked woman in the world, hurt her ankle against Molik on Wednesday night and pulled out of the competition.

Molik and Hewitt have had an unfortunate run at the Hopman Cup. The Australian pair had to withdraw in 2002 when Hewitt developed chicken pox. They reached the final last year but were outplayed by Blake and Williams. This year Molik and Clijsters, Hewitt's fiancee, were injured.

In another round-robin match, France beat the Czech Republic 2-1 on Friday.