Davis Cup: Aus take 2-0 lead

Lleyton Hewitt gave Australia a 2-0 lead in its Davis Cup World Group playoff with a record-setting 6-0 6-2 6-2 win.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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Lleyton Hewitt gave Australia a 2-0 lead in its Davis Cup World Group playoff today with a record-setting 6-0 6-2 6-2 win over Mehdi Tahiri of Morocco on grass at Royal Kings Park. Wayne Arthurs, playing in his first opening singles match in more than two years, earlier gave Australia a 1-0 lead with a 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 6-3 win over Mounir El Aarej. The win was Hewitt's 25th Davis Cup singles victory, an Australian record in just his sixth year of Davis Cup play. Australia has played Davis Cup for 99 years. It broke the mark of 24 wins established by Adrian Quist over a 16-year period from 1933 to 1948. Hewitt has won his last eight Davis Cup singles matches and 14 of his last 15. "All the talk was on that, but I wasn't really concentrating on it," Hewitt said of the record. "I'm only 23 so hopefully I can build a little bit of a gap on the next guy." Injury troubles Morocco's two best players, Hicham Arazi and Younes El Aynaoui, are not in Perth due to injuries. The Australians are without Mark Philippoussis, their No 2-ranked player, who has a hip injury. Hewitt had little trouble with his overmatched opponent, winning the first set in 21 minutes. Tahiri picked up his first point on serve in the fourth game - when a Hewitt forehand went long. The US Open finalist won nine straight games from the middle of the second set and through the first five games of the third. On consecutive points while up 3-0 in the third, he first hit a drop shot at the net with Tahiri flat-footed at the back, then hit a lob over his head when the Moroccan attempted to rush the net. Tahiri fought off one match point in the sixth game, then broke Hewitt in the seventh to extend the match. But Hewitt broke Tahiri's serve in the deciding game, including a Tahiri double-fault on match point. Arthurs was down a set point in the opening set before edging El Aarej in the tiebreaker. The Australian then had single service breaks in each of the next two sets to win the match. Reverse singles Arthurs and Todd Woodbridge are scheduled to take on Tahiri and El Aarej in doubles tomorrow, ahead of the reverse singles Sunday. A doubles win for Australia would clinch the match and leave Australia in the World Group for 2005. Arthurs served 21 aces and lost just one point on serve in the second set. "I came out a little nervous," Arthurs said. "It was good to get through that first set. I was probably fortunate to win that." Arthurs said he struggled initially to adapt to El Aarej's game, having never played the Moroccan. "It's always very difficult to play someone you haven't seen," he said. "You never know what they're going to throw at you," he said. "It was pretty ugly. My tennis was not the purest I've every played." (AP)