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Rediff.com  » Sports » Djokovic impresses as Serbia see off Australia

Djokovic impresses as Serbia see off Australia

January 04, 2011 20:44 IST

Novak Djokovic laid down an early marker ahead of the Australian Open with a scintillating performance on Tuesday as Serbia beat Australia to move closer to a place in the final of the Hopman Cup mixed team event.

The world number three brushed aside former world number one Lleyton Hewitt 6-2, 6-4 to secure an unbeatable 2-0 lead for the top seeds after Ana Ivanovic eased to a 6-4, 6-0 win over Alicia Molik.

Belgium whitewashed Kazakhstan 3-0 and their match with Serbia on Thursday will decide which of the two nations goes through to the final as winners of group A.

Djokovic, who has been training with Britain's Andy Murray throughout the week, looked lean and mean as he bullied Hewitt from the baseline with some outstanding hitting.

Hewitt's only moment of hope came when he recovered a break to level at 2-2 in the second set but Djokovic broke in the 10th game to clinch an impressive victory.

"I played great," he said. "From the start of the match, especially at the end of the first set, I played some of my best tennis in a year and a half."

Former world number one Ivanovic survived an injury scare as she came through a tough first set before crushing Molik in the second.

The Serb said she felt a sharp pain in her left knee in the third game of the second set but, though she planned to check it with the medical staff, she believed it would not be a problem.

HENIN VICTORY

Another former world number one, Justine Henin, continued her comeback from a six-month injury absence as Belgium whitewashed Kazakhstan.

Henin saw off stand-in Sesil Karatantcheva 6-4, 6-3 to put Belgium ahead and Ruben Bemelmans upset the much higher-ranked Andrey Golubev 6-4, 6-4. The Belgians then won the mixed doubles 4-6, 6-2, 10-8.

In just her second match since Wimbledon because of a serious elbow injury, Henin was still a little rusty but had too much experience for world number 140 Karatantcheva.

Having arrived in Perth late on Monday as a replacement for the injured Yaraoslava Shvedova, Karatantcheva had Henin worried when she broke to lead 3-1 in the second set before the Belgian reeled off five straight games for victory.

"It's not that easy especially after the injury so I am working hard to come back," Henin said.

"It's the first two matches so I know it's going to take a bit of time but it's just great to have the opportunity to play a few matches and have competition again."

World number 178 Bemelmans enjoyed one of the best wins of his career as he outplayed Golubev, ranked 142 places above him.

"Though I lost my first match I stayed positive and it was great today," Bemelmans said. "I played very well and it's my best win in terms of ranking."

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