Taiwan beat Thailand win Asian Hopman Cup

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BANGKOK, Nov 11 (Reuters) Taiwan held off a spirited Thailand to win the Asian Hopman Cup mixed team event today and earn a place in next month's tournament proper in Perth.

Lu Yen-hsun and Hsieh Su-wei sealed victory with a commanding performance in the deciding doubles match, hammering Thai pairing Danai Udomchoke and Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-4 6-0 to complete the line-up for the eight-nation Hopman Cup.

''We're so happy to win, it's not easy to come here, play all these matches,'' Lu told reporters.

''We'd split the points, so it all came down to the final match and we realised we needed to take our chance to win.'' Hsieh gave Taiwan the early advantage, dictating the opening match with Tamarine to win 6-3 7-5.

The 21-year-old blasted the ball around the court and forced struggling Tamarine into a stream of errors. Hsieh broke her opponent at 4-3 to win the first set and held her nerve and her serve to climb back from 4-2 down to take the second.

''It's important to get that first win,'' Hsieh told reporters. ''We were both carrying injuries, so it was about mental strength, a battle from inside.'' In the men's singles, Danai beat Lu 7-6 6-4 to bring it to 1-1 overall, edging ahead in a tight but entertaining match against the Asian number two.

The players were evenly matched throughout, with Asian Games gold medallist Danai countering Lu's big serves and heavy topspin drives with powerful returns and perfectly-placed drop shots.

Danai won a close first set tiebreak and kept his composure throughout a tricky second set packed with powerful serving and heated rallies. The Thai broke his opponent at 5-4 to earn the win and level the score.

''We played well, but they played better,'' Danai said after the doubles defeat. ''It wasn't a good final match for us.'' Taiwan's victory gave them the final berth in the Hopman Cup, which starts on December 29. Also competing will be four-times champions the United States, Serbia, France, Australia, Argentina, Czech Republic and last year's winners India.

REUTERS AB HT2110

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