Beaten Serbia advances to final

Beaten Serbia advances to final

Serbia reached the final of the Hyundai Hopman Cup in Perth, despite losing 2-1 to Belgium in their final group stage match.

Ana was defeated 6-4, 6-3 by an outstanding Justine Henin in the first rubber, but Novak Djokovic secured the solitary point Serbia needed to reach the final when he defeated Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-2.

Ana and Djokovic were then edged out 3-6, 6-4, 10-4 in the mixed doubles rubber, though that result counted for nothing as Serbia's two 3-0 wins earlier in the week ensured that they required only one more rubber to top Group A.

In the clash between the two former world No.1s, Ana began extremely well against Henin, who was competing in Perth for the first time since recovering from an elbow injury that she suffered during the Wimbledon Championships last June.

The 23-year-old was dominant early on, striking two forehand winners and an ace to clinch the opening game. She followed up that pristine start with a break to love to lead her opponent 2-0.

Unfortunately Ana could not sustain such fine play and Henin began to use her trademark stroke, her single-handed backhand, to great effect. The seven-time Grand Slam champion was on fire, winning five games in a row as she stormed into a 5-2 lead.

Ana recaptured the aggression in her strokes, gaining one break back and she even had a chance to break to level at 5-5, but it was Henin who converted her third set point to wrap up the first set, 6-4.

Similarly to the first set, Ana had a chance to go up a break in the early stages of the second set, but this time Henin was able to hold. Ana’s backhand began to falter while Henin was deadly effective and the seven-time Grand Slam champion took a 4-1 lead, with Ana behind by two service breaks.

Again, the 23-year-old managed to reduce the arrears, but another loss of serve sealed her fate after 76 minutes.

Serbia's opponent in Saturday's final is not yet known, but the United States, comprising John Isner and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, is in an extremely strong position atop Group B.

By Joeri Moerman