Tennis: Lost luggage almost costs Croatia win

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The Independent Online
Croatia, the top seeds, survived an early scare to beat Australia 2- 1 after Goran Ivanisevic fell to Mark Philippoussis on the first day of the Hopman Cup in Perth yesterday.

Philippoussis took only 59 minutes to dispose of the world No 4, 6-2, 6-3, to level the tie at 1-1 after Iva Majoli drew first blood for the Croats with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Nicole Bradtke. In the deciding doubles tie, the Croatian pair secured a 7-5, 7-5 victory.

In the second Group A match of the eight-team tournament, the United States upstaged the fourth seeds France, 2-1. The world No 17 Chanda Rubin gave the Americans the lead when she beat Mary Pierce, playing her first match since September, in straight sets.

Guy Forget, who received treatment for blisters on his left (playing) hand during his match with Justin Gimelstob, levelled the tie with a 2- 6, 6-3, 6-3 victory. The Americans then wrapped up the tie with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win in the doubles.

Gimelstob, a 19-year-old UCLA student from New Jersey, did his best to help the American cause just 12 hours after flying across the world to replace Richey Reneberg, who was forced to withdraw because his wife is awaiting their first child.

Ivanisevic revealed he had been forced to play in an untested pair of shoes after his luggage failed to show up when he arrived in Perth on Saturday. He said it had taken 18 months for manufacturers to develop his footwear. "And finally ,when they made the shoes right, I lost them. So it's a big difference."

In a battle of two of the game's biggest servers, Philippoussis, ranked 30th in the world, blasted his rival off the court with 15 aces compared to Ivanisevic's five. In play today, the second seeds Switzerland meet Romania and South Africa take on Germany in Group B.

Britain's Greg Rusedski has been forced out of the Adelaide Open, which started today, because of blisters.