Mauresmo has wood on Russian rival
By Russell Reid
AMELIE MAURESMO made an impressive Hyundai Hopman Cup debut against Russia's Anastasia Myskina at the Burswood Dome last night.
The world No. 4 got France off to a perfect start when she beat the emerging Russian 6-2 7-6 (7-2).
It was Mauresmo's fifth win from six matches against Myskina.
Mauresmo started brightly, breaking Myskina's serve in the third game of the opening set. She repeated the dose in the fifth game for a 4-1 lead and was able to shut out the first set two games later.
World No. 7 Myskina, who is leading a charge of Russian women on the WTA tour, fought back in the second set.
She raced to a 4-1 lead before Mauresmo regained her composure to break back in the seventh game.
Mauresmo made short work of Myskina in the second set tie break, winning five of the first six points.
Mauresmo had what could only be described as a horrendous run of outs in 2003. She aggravated an injury to her right knee in October 2002 and missed four months, including last year's Australian Open.
She later pulled out of Wimbledon with a rib injury and also suffered food poisoning and a throat infection.
It was a credit to Mauresmo's resilience that she was able to fight back and finish with a No. 4 ranking.
Mauresmo finished the year well, making it to the final of the season-ending WTA event before losing to world No. 2 Kim Clijsters.
She said it was pleasing to start the 16th Perth mixed teams international with a win. "I am happy to be here and to start out in that way," Mauresmo said. "I have worked hard at training."
An accomplished Fed Cup player, Mauresmo said it was an honour to play for France.
"It's great to represent your country," she said. "This is a special mixed event and I am not used to that. It will be nice playing with Fabrice."
Doubles specialist Fabrice Santoro was due to clash with former Russian world No. 1 Marat Safin after the women's singles, with a mixed doubles rubber to follow.
The top seeded Americans make their first appearance at the Hopman Cup this morning.
Lyndsay Davenport and James Blake could be stretched by the Czech Republic team of Barbara Strycova and Jiri Novak.
Davenport is a three-times grand slam event winner, a former world No. 1 and ranked more than 150 spots ahead of her 17-year-old opponent, a rising star with two Australian junior titles.
Novak can be considered a journeyman at 28 but he likes this tournament, winning all his singles last year including victory over Lleyton Hewitt.
He did not play Blake, who was in the other side of the draw in the winning team alongside Serena Williams.
If Blake can repeat the form he showed last year, when he also beat Hewitt, the US should win.
In the evening session, the Slovak Republic will be keen to open its account after losing to Belgium yesterday.
To keep its outside chances alive, Daniela Hantuchova and Karol Kucera will have to beat the qualifier Hungary.
Petra Mandula has six doubles titles to her credit and pressed Alicia Molik on Sunday while the big-serving Attila Savolt has some claims with a victory over Britain's Tim Henman last year.