Isner inspires US to sixth Hopman Cup title

Americans John Isner (left) and Bethanie Mattek-Sands celebrate after winning the final of the Hopman Cup tournament in Australia on Saturday. (AP)

John Isner inspired the United States to Hopman Cup glory on Saturday as they beat Belgium 2-1 to win the mixed team event for the sixth time.

The world number 19 crushed Ruben Bemelmans 6-3 6-4 to level the tie after Bethanie Mattek-Sands had been beaten 7-6 6-3 by former world number one Justine Henin in the opening match.
Isner then joined forces with Mattek-Sands to win the deciding mixed doubles 6-1 6-3 to give the United States a well-deserved victory.
“This has been a great, great week,” Isner said. “I’d like to thank Bethanie, her back’s got to be hurting because she’s been carrying me all week.”
The winners were each awarded a gold and diamond-encrusted tennis ball as their prize, much to the delight of Mattek-Sands.
“I actually saw these when I first got here and I thought they were the best trophy in tennis,” she said. “It’s been an amazing week.”
Belgium were a late replacement in the final for Serbia, who had to pull out after Ana Ivanovic suffered an injury.
From 1-1 in the first set, Henin and world number 58 Mattek-Sands shared eight consecutive service breaks but both managed to hold to force a tiebreak.
Mattek-Sands had been aggressive throughout and her attacking tennis paid off when she held two set points 6-4, only for Henin to find her game just in time to take it 8-6.
The American then broke in the first game of the second set on her way to a 3-1 lead but Henin, in her first event back after six months out with a fractured elbow, then hit top gear and won 18 of the last 19 points to seal victory.
“When I heard I had to play the final I was really mentally getting ready to go to Melbourne,” Henin said.
“It took me until 3-1 down in the second set to start playing my game but in the last five games I really found my level and it was good to finish with a win.
“But they were the better team today and I think the best team of the week won,” Henin said. “John was just too big but it’s been great preparation for the Australian Open.”
Isner never gave Bemelmans a chance in the men’s singles, serving 13 aces as he brushed aside the young Belgian to level the tie.
The Americans were dominated the mixed doubles to win the title.
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