Date: Saturday, January 01, 2000 9:34:43 AM
PERTH, Australia, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Teenager Jelena Dokic and Mark Philippoussis look to lead Australia to its second consecutive title at the Hopman Cup, which begins on Sunday.
A year ago at this event, Dokic made her first big splash on the WTA Tour, notching wins over established stars such as Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Sandrine Testud, and Asa Carlsson. Seven months later, she upset world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the first round of Wimbledon and reached the quarterfinals.
Philippoussis, who once walked out on the national squad, took part in three winning teams forAustralia -- winning here, the ATP Tour World Team Championship in Dusseldorf, and the Davis Cup.
Dokic and Philippoussis open against Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn and Paradorn Srichaphan, who won a qualifyng tie against Japan Saturday. Tanasugarn beat Ai Sugiyama, 6-1, 6-3, and Srichaphan got past Takao Suzuki, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).
The Australians' task of repeating became easier when Monica Seles and Justin Gimelstob of the United States dropped out due to injuries. Their places were taken by Alexandra Stevenson and James Blake.
Stevenson, who turned 19 last week, also made a name for herself at Wimbledon, becoming the first female qualifier to reach the semifinals. NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving is her father. Blake, a 20-year-old Harvard student, finished last year No. 1 in the NCAA, and after turning professional in July reached 219 on the ATP Tour rankings.
The Americans, who were relieved of the No. 1 seeding, meet unseeded Sweden on Monday in a Group A tie. Stevenson will face Carlsson and Blake will battle Jonas Bjorkman.
Fourth-seeded South Africa, comprised of Wayne Ferreira and Amanda Coetzer, and the Belgian squad of Xavier Malisse and Dominique Van Roost fill out Group A and will square off on Sunday.
Third seed and 1998 winners Slovak Republic, which is represented by Karol Kucera and Henrieta Nagyova, and the Austrian team of Stefan Koubek and Barbara Schett join Australia and Thailand make up Group B.NEWLN:-- --