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Tennis: Germany downs US at Hopman Cup

AFP · 7 Jan 2009, 13:57

Published: 07 Jan 2009 13:57 GMT+01:00

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Teenager Sabine Lisicki and Nicolas Kiefer continued their impressive run in Group A with a narrow 2-1 win over Meghann Shaughnessy and James Blake, edging the mixed doubles 6-3, 3-6, 10-7. The German pair, who earlier beat Australia's Lleyton Hewitt and Casey Dellacqua, faces the Slovak Republic on Thursday for a place in the final.

Blake and Shaughnessy now have no chance of defending the title won by Mardy Fish and Serena Williams last year. As has been the case so often this week, Germany was forced to wait until the mixed doubles to secure the crucial win, with Sabine Lisicki and Nicolas Kiefer edging past Meghann Shaughnessy and James Blake in a match tie-break.

Both Germany and the Slovak Republic have won the Hopman Cup twice and Kiefer said he was excited by the prospect of playing Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hrbaty for a berth in Friday's final. "I love playing for my country," he said. "I hope that is a great match tomorrow."

In the women's singles, Shaughnessy, on the comeback trail after a serious knee injury and still looking a little restricted in her movement, showed greatly improved form to take the first set, but couldn't maintain her form and was beaten in three sets by the promising Lisicki, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

The 56th-ranked Lisicki, 19, said she was pleased with the way she rallied after the first set to give her side a 1-0 lead. "I played really well in the second set," she said. "First set was not bad actually, but you know at important points she made those. The third set I was going up and down a little bit again, but I won it, so that's what counts." Lisicki said she was looking forward to taking on fellow teenager Cibulkova, ranked 19th, who has looked impressive in two singles wins this week.

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Blake, who was seeking a third title here, then squared the tie with a hard-earned win over the plucky Kiefer in the men's singles, 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (7/9), 6-4. The American held two match points in the second set, but Kiefer managed to save both and then won the tie-break to force a decider. Blake broke in the first game of the third set and was able to protect the lead on his own serve, which produced 17 aces, to level the tie.

"He played great, he just put a lot of pressure on me and I was able to serve really well," Blake said. "I worked on that a lot in the off-season and to go through a whole match against Kiefer and not get broken is something I am really proud of."

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