Australia beat US to keep Hopman Cup title bid alive
Perth: Top seeds Australia kept their hopes of making the Hopman Cup final alive as commanding performances from Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Stosur gave them a 2-1 victory over the United States.
Stosur started the ball rolling at the mixed team event with a 6-2, 6-4 win over 18-year-old Melanie Oudin before Hewitt dismissed John Isner 6-1, 7-5 to take an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Australia must beat Spain in their last group match on Thursday to make the final but America`s hopes of qualifying ended with this defeat. Romania and Spain play later on Tuesday.
The home victory will leave organisers of the traditional Australian Open warm-up tournament breathing a little more easily after the hosts stayed in the hunt, much to the delight of the packed crowd inside the Burswood Dome.
Stosur got the home fans into her match early on, playing the kind of tennis she produced for much of 2009 and which has elevated her to 13th in the world rankings.
The lines on the court were hit consistently as Stosur hammered 14 aces, never giving the few American fans in the Perth crowd a chance to get behind Oudin, a quarter-finalist at last year`s US Open.
It took just 70 minutes for Stosur to wrap up a victory that should lift her confidence after defeat to Romanian Sorana Cirstea in Australia`s opening round-robin match.
"I thought I played pretty well today so I am very happy," Stosur told reporters.
"I have been working on my serve the last few months and I think I am starting to see the improvement and consistency regularly. I tried to mix it up and thought I hit the corners pretty well."
Former world number one Hewitt was in vintage returning form as he romped through the first set in 26 minutes, dipping returns at the feet of the tall American and then threading passing shots.
The second set was a far closer contest as Isner relaxed but Hewitt snatched the vital break in the 11th game when the American lifted a forehand long and Hewitt served out for the win.
"I played extremely well today," Hewitt said. "John`s always an awkward player for anyone. He`s pushed (Roger) Federer before and beaten (Andy) Roddick.
"I returned extremely well, made him play a lot of balls and got that early jump on him, which was huge."
The American duo claimed a consolation 2-6, 6-1, 10-5 win in the mixed doubles.