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 Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 17:29 GMT
Australia cruise past Italy
Lleyton Hewitt
Hewitt kept his focus during a break for bad weather

World number one Lleyton Hewitt avenged his early exit in last year's Hopman Cup with a compelling victory over Davide Sanguinetti in Group B of the event.

Hewitt's 2001 bid was scuppered by chicken pox but on Saturday he made light work of Italy as he and team-mate Alicia Molik ran out 3-0 winners.

The lowly-ranked Molik got the Australians off to a stunning start with a shock win in her singles match against world number 17 Silvia Farina-Elia.

I felt I was moving pretty well and not making too many errors

Lleyton Hewitt

And Hewitt put the tie out of the Italians' reach in his first match of the season, beating Sanguinetti 6-3 6-1.

The pair took a 3-0 victory with a walkover in the doubles after Sanguinetti pulled out because of an ankle injury picked up in the singles against Hewitt.

Molik, the world number 94, came back from 3-1 down in the opening set for a stunning 6-3 6-4 win in the tie's opening rubber at Perth's Burswood Dome.

In the men's rubber, Hewitt confidently took the first set 6-3 before an electrical storm caused the floodlights to fail.

The players were taken off court for almost an hour and, on their return, Hewitt was even more unforgiving, wrapping up the second set 6-1 for a comfortable victory over the Italians.

Hantuchova lost from a set and 4-2 up
Hantuchova lost from a set and 4-2 up

Hewitt said: "It was a tough one but I was lucky enough to get off to a good start.

"I felt I was moving pretty well and not making too many errors."

In Sunday's evening session the third-seeded Czech Republic beat Slovakia 2-1 in the second Group B match thanks to two gutsy singles performances.

Jiri Novak beat Dominik Hrbaty 7-6 5-7 6-3 to seal the win after Daja Bedanova had fought back from a set and 4-2 down to beat popular Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 3-6 6-4 6-1.

"Dominik was fighting very well and both of us wanted to win so much because it was the first meeting between the Czech and Slovak republics on court," world number seven Novak said.

The Slovaks did get on the scoreboard in the doubles, grinding out a 5-7 7-6 11-9 victory in a match.

Top seeds the United States open their campaign against Uzbekistan on Monday, while Belgium will take on Spain.


Hopman Cup results:

(3) Czech Republic beat (5) Slovakia 2-1

Jiri Novak/Dana Bedanova lost to Dominik Hrbaty/Daniela Hantuchova 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 9-11
Jiri Novak beat Dominik Hrbaty 7-6 (7-1) 5-7 6-3
Daja Bedanova beat Daniela Hantuchova 3-6 6-4 6-1

(2) Australia beat (7) Italy 3-0

Lleyton Hewitt/Alicia Molik beat Davide Sanguinetti/Silvia Farina Elia by walkover
Lleyton Hewitt beat Davide Sanguinetti 6-3 6-1
Alicia Molik beat Silvia Farina Elia 6-3 6-4

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27 Dec 02 | Tennis
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