Spain into Hopman Cup final
Perth: Spain advanced to the Hopman Cup final with a 3-0 win over Australia in their Group A tie on Thursday.
The host nation needed to win all three rubbers in the tie in straight sets to snatch a spot in Saturday`s final of the mixed teams tournament off the unbeaten Spanish pairing of Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Tommy Robredo, but the task proved well beyond them.
It took the in-form Martinez Sanchez just 41 minutes to snuff out Australian hopes, securing a fourth final appearance for Spain when she took the first set off Samantha Stosur.
Spain have won here twice, in 1990 and most recently in 2002, when a teenage Robredo combined with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to beat the United States in the final.
They take peak form into the final, having not dropped a single rubber in their three group ties.
Robredo said the Spanish had not worried about the permutations heading into the clash with Australia.
"We were making the numbers in the room and everyone was saying that if we were winning one set we were in the final," he said.
"We were checking the numbers and everything and we are not so good at maths, so we said maybe it is better if one or both us wins the match."
Robredo was excited by the chance to add another of the diamond encrusted tennis balls presented to the winners to the one he collected in 2002, and said he had been inspired by Martinez Sanchez`s form this week.
"Maria is playing great tennis this week," he said.
"Watching her play so nice, serving and volleying with quick hands, obviously I have a great partner.
"I have to keep going, if she is playing that good I have to do my best, because we are very close to those diamond balls."
Perhaps deflated by the knowledge her first set loss had ended Australia`s hopes in the tournament, the 13th-ranked Stosur capitulated meekly in the second set to hand the 26th-ranked Martinez Sanchez a 6-4, 6-1 win.
It capped an impeccable performance in the round robin group ties for Martinez Sanchez, who did not drop a set in any of her singles matches.
The 27-year-old`s unusual game style troubled her opponents and she notched easy victories over promising duo Melanie Oudin and Sorana Cirstea prior to upsetting Stosur.
Robredo was in sparkling form against Lleyton Hewitt, who appeared to be slightly troubled by a lower back problem and sought treatment at the end of a lopsided first set.
Although the Australian improved in the second set, he had no answer to the Robredo forehand and the Spaniard won 6-2, 6-4.
The Spanish then claimed the dead mixed doubles in a match tiebreak.
The day`s other tie saw the United States beat Romania 3-0, with Melanie Oudin beating Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, and both the men`s singles and mixed doubles forfeited by Romania due to a leg injury to Victor Hanescu.
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