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Belgium wins in Hopman Cup

Jan. 1, 2002 at 12:00 PM

PERTH, Australia, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Fourth-seeded Belgium overcame a surprising loss in women's singles Tuesday to rally past Italy, 2-1, in a Group A round-robin battle at the Hopman Cup.

Belgium looked to be in trouble in the mixed team event after its No. 1 women's player, French Open finalist Kim Clijsters, dropped a 6-4, 6-4 decision to 31st-ranked Francesca Schiavone in the first match of the day.

But Xavier Malisse defeated Davide Sanguinetti, 6-4, 7-5, before pairing with Clijsters to top the Italian duo, 6-3, 6-4, in the mixed doubles.

The Federation Cup champions, Belgium was expected to cruise by Italy, which needed to beat Greece in a play-in just to enter the tournament.

"It was important to win that," Clijsters said after the mixed doubles. "It was good to get that win after losing this morning. I've played her before and she just chases everything down. I knew it would be tough. And 10 in the morning is early to be running around on New Year's Day."

In Group B action, third-seeded Spain posted its second three-match sweep of the week in its tie against Switzerland.

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who won the Hopman Cup in 1990 with her brother Emilio, thrashed Miroslava Vavrinec, 6-2, 6-0, before ountryman Tommy Robredo subdued Roger Federer, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2.

Robredo and Sanchez-Vicario dispatched Federer and Vavrinec in the doubles, 6-2, 6-3.

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