Spain move to verge of place in Hopman Cup final

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

By Simon Cambers

PERTH (Reuters) - Spain moved to the verge of a place in the Hopman Cup final after they recorded a second consecutive 3-0 win on Tuesday, beating an injury-hit Romania side.

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-3 and Tommy Robredo took the first set 6-3 against Victor Hanescu before the tall Romanian quit with a thigh problem.

Hanescu was unable to play the mixed doubles, leaving Spain top of Group A and needing to win just one of their matches in the tie against Australia on Thursday to reach the final of the mixed team event, a traditional warm-up for the Australian Open.

Romania enjoyed the support of the majority of the crowd packed into the atmospheric Burswood Dome but their hopes were hampered by injuries to both their players.

World number 45 Cirstea struggled to move to her right because of a calf problem and Martinez Sanchez made her turn one way and then the other.

Cirstea compensated by going for broke on several groundstrokes but the left-handed Spaniard had too much nous for her and after claiming a vital break in the seventh game, she served out for the opener.


Hanescu had faded badly at the end of his opening match against Llyeton Hewitt on Saturday and even two days off was not enough to get him back to 100 percent against Robredo.

The Spaniard was right on top of his game as he won the first set 6-3, after which Hanescu called it a day and then pulled out of the mixed doubles.

"It's very sad for Victor that we had to finish the match this way," Robredo said. "But I thought I was playing really great, so I am happy for that."

Commanding performances from Hewitt and Sam Stosur gave the hosts a 2-1 victory over the United States.

Stosur started the ball rolling with a 6-2 6-4 win over 18-year-old Melanie Oudin before Hewitt dismissed John Isner 6-1 7-5.

The Americans gained something of a consolation when they then won the mixed doubles 2-6 6-1 10-5 but they cannot make the final.

"I played extremely well today," said Hewitt. "John's always an awkward player for anyone. He's pushed (Roger) Federer before and beaten (Andy) Roddick.

"I returned extremely well, made him play a lot of balls and got that early jump on him, which was huge."

(Editing by Sonia Oxley)