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By STEPHEN WADE<br />AP Sports Writer

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- An American no-show did nothing to dim Belgium's first Fed Cup title.

``It would have been great if they were here, but they weren't,'' said Justine Henin, after she and Kim Clijsters took rapid-fire straight-set victories over Russia in Sunday's final.

``We were the favorites here but we had to prove it on the court and we did it,'' Henin said. ``It's a great victory for a little country with two young players and a great team.''

Henin beat Nadia Petrova 6-0, 6-3 in 50 minutes. Clijsters, taking her first set in 14 minutes, defeated Elena Dementieva 6-0, 6-4 in 49 minutes in one of the most lopsided finals in history.

With two of tennis' youngest stars, Belgium was the favorite to claim the equivalent of the men's Davis Cup from the moment the two-time defending champion Americans -- 17 titles overall -- withdrew last month, citing security worries.


Clijsters, at 18 too young in some countries to drink champagne legally, broke into a sparkling smile as she uncorked a magnum and sprayed fans, teammates and the Russians -- losers in all four of their Fed Cup finals.

``I've seen it a few times on TV and I really wanted to do it once in my life,'' she said. ``I've never done it before. It was nice. I didn't get wet, but I made everyone else wet.''

Belgium won Pool A in the round-robin portion of the tournament to reach the final with victories over Spain, Australia and Germany. Russia was 3-0 with victories over France, Argentina and the Czech Republic.

Only about 2,000 fans watched the final, played on an indoor clay court. The crowd was even smaller when Russia won the meaningless doubles, Petrova and Elena Likhovtseva defeating Els Callens and Laurence Courtois 7-5, 7-6 (2).

Officials blamed the scant turnout on the absent United States, a final without the home Spanish team, and a venue isolated in northern Madrid that is being floated as a potential site for the 2012 Olympics.

Clijsters said she was ``pretty surprised there were that many people.'' Henin, however, admitted disappointment at the attendance and atmosphere of the five-day event.

``It would be better for sure if we were playing in Belgium or if there were a lot of people, but that's the format now,'' she said. ``It's a little bit sad.''

Fed Cup officials, acknowledging the event's problems, are changing the format next season and returning to a four-team instead of an eight-team final. It will be the fifth format change in five years.

Henin, playing Petrova for the first time, ripped through the first set in 21 minutes with three service breaks. Petrova struggled with every phase of her game, spraying groundstrokes and wobbling on her serve.

Petrova, 19, said she was distracted by the opening ceremony and didn't have time to warm up. ``Maybe it just wasn't my day. I was ready to play, but when I came out on the court everything went wrong.''

Clijsters' victory was almost a duplicate as both the young Russians -- Dementieva, 20, and Petrova, 19 -- seems nervous.

Henin, 19, and Clijsters, 18, are two of tennis' most promising young players, with Clijsters ranked No. 5 by the WTA and Henin No. 7. Clijsters was the losing finalist in the French Open.

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