Hingis unstoppable in her return

PERTH: The United States overcame top seeds Russia to stay on course for the final of the Hopman Cup mixed teams tennis tournament with a 2-1 win in their Group A tie here on Tuesday.

The Russians, who fielded an under-strength team after the late withdrawal of Australian Open champion Marat Safin, were no match for the Americans in the mixed doubles, losing 6-4, 6-1 after the singles rubbers were split.The Americans, who have won the event on three previous occasions, have now been successful in both their ties after defeating Serbia and Montenegro on Sunday.

Svetlana Kuznetsova got the Russians off to the right start, proving too powerful for American doubles specialist Lisa Raymond with a 6-4, 6-1 victory in 72 minutes."I really enjoyed today's match. I was a bit stiff in the start ... nervous, didn't play much and (made) many mistakes," Kuznetsova said. "Then I get the game going and I'm feeling pretty happy out there."

But the Americans were always expected to level in the men's singles with world No. 30 Taylor Dent up against the little-known Yuri Schukin.

Schukin, ranked 299 in the world, offered a few fleeting glimpses of hope in the opening five games but was never in the hunt against his big-serving opponent losing 6-2, 6-0 in just 45 minutes.Russia will play Sweden on Wednesday with the United States slated to meet the same team on Thursday in the $725,000 event.

Philippoussis advances

Mark Philippoussis advanced to the second round of the Australian hardcourt championships in Adelaide with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Vince Spadea of the United States on Tuesday.

Later top seed Lleyton Hewitt survived a first set scare to beat Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in a first-round match.

Fifth seed James Blake also moved into the second round after a comfortable win over Spaniard Alberto Martin as did Croatia's Ivo Karlovic, who upset eighth seed Juan Ignacio Chela, and German Florian Mayer who beat Argentina's Juan Monaco 6-2, 6-4.

Britain's rising talent Andy Murray also advanced with a 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi.Philippoussis, a former US Open and Wimbledon finalist who is now ranked 172nd, managed to overcome three service breaks in the second set to beat the 75th-ranked Spadea.

Hantuchova posts win

Second seed Daniela Hantuchova overcame a nervous start to beat Yulia Beygelzimer of Ukraine and advance into the second round of the Auckland Open at Wellington on Tuesday.

Hantuchova dropped the first five games of the opening set, but eventually ran out a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.Although she has qualified for this month's Australian Open in Melbourne, Dokic was not as successful in her first main draw match since last August, falling 5-7, 7-6, 6-1 to 81st-ranked Julia Schruff of Germany.

Japan's seventh seeded Shinobu Asagoe, last year's beaten finalist, was the only seed to fall on Tuesday, beaten 6-0, 3-6, 6-2 by Spain's unseeded Maria Sanchez Lorenzo.

Fourth seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia advanced after she beat Czech Olga Blahotova 6-4, 6-1, while third seed Elena Likhovtseva beat Akiko Morigami of Japan 7-5, 5-7, 7-5.

Martina Hingis continued her successful comeback with a doubles victory over Athens Olympic gold medallists Li Ting and Sun Tiantian at the Australian hardcourt championships at Gold Coast on Tuesday.Fourth seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy beat China's Li Na 6-2, 6-2, while Spanish eighth seed Anabel Medina Garrigues beat Japan's Aiko Nakamura 6-4, 6-4.

Czech teenager Lucie Safarova needed seven match points against Slovakia's Jarmila Gajdosova before closing out the contest 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Bhupathi crashes out

Mahesh Bhupathi's stint with his new doubles partner Wesley Moodie of South Africa began on a disappointing note when the pair went out in the first round of the $1 million Qatar Exxon Mobile Open in Doha.

The tournament's third seeds lost 4-6, 4-6 to wildcards Austrian Oliver Marach and Lukasz Kubot on Monday night.

This was Bhupathi's first match with Moodie.

The results: At Perth: Hopman Cup: US bt Russia 2-1 (Lisa Raymond lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-1; Taylor Dent bt Yuri Schukin 6-2, 6-0; Raymond and Dent bt Kuznetsova and Schukin 6-4, 6-1); Netherlands bt Australia 2-1 (Samantha Stosur bt Michaella Krajicek 6-4, 7-6 (10-8); Peter Wessels bt Todd Reid 7-5, 6-4; Wessels / Krajicek bt Reid / Stosur 6-4, 6-2.

At Adelaide: Australian men's hardcourt: first round: Mark Philippoussis bt Vince Spadea 6-4, 3-6, 6-4; Florian Mayer bt Juan Monaco 6-2, 6-4; Ivo Karlovic bt Juan-Ignacio Chela 6-3, 3-6, 6-1;

Andreas Seppi bt Boris Pashanski 6-4, 6-4.

At Gold Coast: Australian women's hardcourt: Singles: second round: Flavia Pennetta bt Li Na 6-2, 6-2; Anabel Medina Garrigues bt Aiko Nakamura 6-4, 6-4; Lucie Safarova bt Jarmila Gajdosova 4-6, 7-5, 6-4; Dinara Safina bt Iveta Benesova 6-0, 6-1.

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