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Russia keeps its hopes alive

PERTH: Nadia Petrova and Dmitry Tursunov beat Ashley Harkleroad and Mardy Fish 6-3, 7-5 to give Russia a 2-1 win over the United States at the Hopman Cup team tennis tournament here on Tuesday.

With this win, Russia moved to 1-1 in Group `A' while defending champion United States dropped to 0-2.

Fish beat Tursunov, who moved to the United States from Russia with his family when he was 12, in straight sets. Fish fired 13 aces, including four in a row, to clinch the first set. The American also had four aces in a row in the 10th game of the second set to save four break points.

Earlier, Petrova had defeated Harkleroad 6-3, 6-0 to give Russia a 1-0 advantage.

The highlight of the mixed doubles match was Tursunov's acrobatic over-the-shoulder smash volley in the final game, which Fish said was the luckiest shot he had ever seen.

Tursunov disagreed with Fish's assessment. ``Apparently it is called a lucky shot, but I can do that all day,'' the Russian said. ``You have no idea how many times I have practiced that.''

Philippoussis injured

Australia's Mark Philippoussis retired with a knee injury against Jerome Haehnel to hand France an unassailable 2-0 lead in another Group `A' encounter.

The 30-year-old, who has had a history of knee injuries in his career, pulled up while chasing a wide ball to his backhand in the fourth game and received extensive courtside treatment.

He was clearly in pain and he lost the fifth game on his serve to love and left a packed house disappointed when he called it quits at 4-1 down.

The results: Group `A': Russia bt United States 2-1 (Nadia Petrova bt Ashley Harkleroad 6-3, 6-0; Dmitry Tursunov lost to Mardy Fish 1-6, 4-6; Petrova & Tursunov bt Harkleroad & Fish 6-3, 7-5).

France bt Australia 3-0 (Tatiana Golovin bt Alicia Molik 7-5, 6-2; Jerome Haehnel bt Mark Philippoussis 4-1 (retd); Golovin/ Haehnel w/o Molik/ Philippoussis). — Agencies

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