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GogoGirl
Dec 26th, 2002, 06:02 PM
Happy Holidays everyone!



http://www.news24.com/News24/Sport/0,1231,2-9_1301515,00.html

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26/12/2002 18:18 - (SA) E-mail story to a friend



Hewitt geared for Hopman Cup

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Melbourne - The 2003 season of world number 1 Lleyton Hewitt begins in earnest on Sunday as the Australian leads team-mate Alicia Molik against Italy at the Hopman Cup mixed team event.

Hewitt has been back in training for several weeks for the eight-nation tournament, which begins the New Year campaign on Saturday as Uzbekistan and Paraguay play a shoot-out tie for the eighth spot in the field.

Hewitt has reportedly been working out with special emphasis on weight training under the watchful eye of coach Jason Stoltenberg and a specialist fitness trainer taken on to help the 21-year-old build up stamina for the long haul.

The Aussie was pronounced in his best recent shape before Christmas by his childhood coach Peter Smith, who groomed the Adelaide player for greatness.

"He's recharged the batteries and lifted the fitness to another level, Smith told Australian media. "There's been some serious weight work going on at the gym."

Hewitt capped a second straight season as world number 1 with a thrilling five-set win over Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain for the title at the Masters Cup in Shanghai last month.

The Aussie then returned home for the first time in months and was soon joined by girlfriend Kim Clijsters, winner of the women's year-end event on the WTA Tour and also playing for Belgium at the Hopman Cup, now in its 15th edition.

Second seed Australia will play the host's traditional opener on Sunday, facing the veteran Italian pair of Davide Sanguinetti and Silvia Farina Elia.

Hewitt has a score to settle in Perth, where he had to pull out mid-way through last year's competition after coming down with chicken pox which compromised his Australian Open.

Winning the home Grand Slam, to be played in Melbourne January 13-26, is a top priority for Hewitt, who has never reached the second week of the major.

Australian sensitivities have apparently been bruised by the inclusion of Molik, who is ranked 100 in the world - some 51 computer places below national women's number 1 Nicole Pratt.

Pratt has grumbled that the photogenic Molik might have been included for more than just tennis reasons. "I'm disappointed not to be there, but I understand that tennis is about entertainment and they need to sell tickets," she said.

Playing in Perth for the American is the other world number 1, Serena Williams, making her debut in Western Australia. She is paired with compatriot James Blake.

Holder Spain's winning combination from last January has been broken up with the retirement of Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, leaving Tommy Robredo to team with Virginia Ruano Pascual.

Teams:

US, 1, Serena Williams, James Blake
Australia, 2, Alicia Molik, Lleyton Hewitt
Czech Republic, 3, Daja Bedanova, Jiri Novak
Belgium, 4, Kim Clijsters, Xavier Malisse
Italy, Silvia Farina Elia, Davide Sanguinetti
Slovak Republic, Daniela Hantuchova, Dominik Hrbaty
Spain, Virginia Ruano Pascual, Tommy Robredo

Playoff for eighth spot:
Paraguay, Rossana de Los Rios, Ramon Delgado
Uzbekistan, Iroda Tulyaganova, Oleg Ogorodov - Sapa-DPA

treufreund
Dec 26th, 2002, 06:11 PM
Lleyton fitter and stronger than ever. :eek: He was already one of the most athletic persons on the planet. :eek:

GogoGirl
Dec 26th, 2002, 06:15 PM
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,5752104%255E2722,00.html




Hantuchova is following Steffi's ground rules
By Margie McDonald, Tennis
December 27, 2002
A YOUNG Slovak with the style and grace of Steffi Graf is on the path to making her own mark in grand slam history.

Daniela Hantuchova, 19, has already helped Slovakia secure its first Fed Cup win this year by beating former champions Spain and then played in her first WTA championships in Los Angeles.

The world No. 8 is making her debut at the Hopman Cup, starting tomorrow in Perth, with Dominik Hrbaty.

Hopman Cup tournament director Paul McNamee believes the 181cm, 56kg Hantuchova is on the verge of greatness.

"She's been in the quarters of the last two slams (Wimbledon, US Open) and fourth round at the French and third round at the Australian. So is she ready to take the next step?" McNamee said.









Hantuchova has risen through the rankings from a 2001 finish of 38 to single figures (eight) by the end of 2002.

"She's a terrific player. Her effortless power and very graceful style is unusual for someone who isn't that big she's just so strong," he said.

"(Justine) Henin has the postcard backhand, whereas Hantuchova just hits the ball so cleanly and flat.

"It's more like Steffi (Graf) than anyone else. She hits through the ball beautifully and is a really good competitor, also like Steffi. I'd expect her to take that next step this year."

While Hantuchova has not played in Perth before, the Slovak Republic won the Hopman Cup in 1998.

For the first time in its 15 year history, the tournament boasts both world No. 1s Lleyton Hewitt and Serena Williams.

"We've always had the men's or the women's No. 1 but never both together, so it's pretty exciting," McNamee said.

He expects the eight-day teams event (with singles and doubles) to offer a guide to how players will fare at the Australian Open a week later.

"It does give a guide and that's what the players are looking for. They start here to get themselves into the fitness and frame of mind and match toughness that they need," he said.

Hewitt and his team-mate Alicia Molik are seeded second and head group B. They cannot meet Williams and James Blake of the US, who head group A, until the final.

Hewitt also will not face girlfriend Kim Clijsters unless Belgium top group A to move through to the final.

The eight nations are split into two groups and play round-robin ties with the winner from each group meeting in the final tomorrow week (January 4).

Elsewhere, Martina Navratilova, 46, has found a doubles partner for the Uncle Tobys women's championships on the Gold Coast starting this Sunday 17-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian was the world No. 1 junior in 2001 and made a sensational seniors debut this year rocketing from the 200s on the WTA computer to finish the year at No. 43.

nuriboy
Dec 26th, 2002, 06:17 PM
Hmm......some strong teams! My picks: Serena/ Blake vs Clijsters/ Malisse for the final.

Elleke
Dec 26th, 2002, 06:22 PM
belgium and USA are in the same groups , nuriboy

raquel
Dec 26th, 2002, 06:33 PM
Go Lleyton and Kim:bounce: Kim v Lleyton playing against each other in a mixed doubes decider in the final would be great! Good Luck Spain too;)

nuriboy
Dec 26th, 2002, 07:07 PM
Oh I see.....anyways Serena/ Blake is a pretty strong team.

miranda_lou
Dec 26th, 2002, 07:20 PM
Lleyton fitter and stronger than ever. He was already one of the most athletic persons on the planet

Lleyton is one of the most athletic players around but he has a "delicate" constitution.:o Notice how he seems to get infections and/or viruses all the time? His doctors have told him not to play as many tournaments this year as he has in the past.:( That means he has to pick his tournaments carefully and do very well in all of them if he wants to remain #1.:)

That Hopman Cup sounds like a good one this year. I really wish the Tennis Channel had gotten started when they were supposed to (December) rather than early 2003.:mad: