Americans win Hopman Cup title
Bethanie Mattek-Sands and John Isner beat Belgium's Justine Henin and Ruben Bemelmans 6-1, 6-3 in mixed doubles Saturday to give the United States its sixth Hopman Cup team tennis title.
Isner leveled the title contest 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Bemelmans after Henin won the final five games of her match to beat Mattek-Sands 7-6 (6), 6-3.
Belgium advanced as a surprise finalist from Group A when first-place finisher Serbia could not play the final because of Ana Ivanovic's abdominal injury.
Isner's booming serve and all-court coverage put the Americans in control in the mixed-doubles decider. Mattek-Sands replaced Serena Williams, who pulled out of the American team in late November due to her continuing recovery from a foot injury.
"It's been an amazing week, my first visit to Perth, and I couldn't have finished it in a better way," Mattek-Sands, who was attired in her usual brightly-colored dress, said at the trophy presentations.
Isner said after his singles win that he didn't know what to expect against Bemelmans.
"I didn't really know too much about his game," Isner said. "My game plan was to go out there and try to make a lot of returns and make him play.
"He's kind of a flashy player so he's going to go for his shots, but I also know he's going to make a few mistakes here and there."
Henin, who found out late Friday she would be playing in the final, said she struggled mentally to prepare for the match.
"I was in my room and . . . they told me 'you will play the final tomorrow,' " Henin said.
"It was strange because mentally I was really focused on leaving for Melbourne on Sunday. I rested yesterday for my elbow and today I started a bit slowly but I thought Bethanie put a lot of pressure on my serve and I wasn't aggressive enough on my serve.
"Then in the second . . . the last five games I was feeling more aggressive."
Henin missed the second half of last year with an elbow injury and said she still was feeling some pain in the joint.
"I have to deal with it," she said. "It's OK, I can play, but sometimes my focus is a lot on it. I'm going to work on it more and I'm glad with the four matches I've had (in Perth)."
The 23rd Hopman Cup had a total attendance of 78,242, a record figure since the event was reduced from 12 sessions to 11 in 2007. The overall Hopman Cup attendance record was 82,126, achieved over 12 sessions at the 16th Hopman Cup in 2004.