Kiefer ankle agony sends Slovaks into Hopman final

January 8th, 2009 - 2:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Perth, Jan 8 (DPA) Nicolas Kiefer was taken off in a wheelchair Thursday, victim of a freak ankle injury as Slovakia reached the final of the eight-nation Hopman Cup team tennis competition when Germany could not go on.Kiefer, 31, was watching a return from Dominik Hrbaty sail out over the baseline when he put his weight wrongly on his right ankle and crumbled to the court at the Burswood Dome.

The German, leading 3-1 and with advantage in the fifth game, lay there in pain until he was taken away for treatment.

Hrbary earned the harsh victory which, combined with the 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 win from teammate Dominika Cibulkova over Sabine Lisicki gave the Slovaks a place in their fourth final.

Hrbaty will be competing in his second Hopman final after playing on the winning team in 2005.

“That was really bad luck,” said Hrbaty, who returned himself from elbow surgery and was suffering from a heavy cold which required a doctor’s visit in the morning. “His body motion didn’t allow him to put enough power on his leg.

“It had to be a bad injury if his ankles were taped. I trained with him this week and he was working very hard. Now he doesn’t know if he can play the Australian Open.

“I hope he will be OK. I’m happy we are in the final, but this is not the best way to get there. We will do all we can to win. We will give our best.

“But it’s still a long way to a title, so we can only do our best and hope to make it.”

The concurrent tie of a daytime double-header was also marked by a fitness drama, this one for Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt.

The Australian, who is playing this week for the first time since an August hip surgery, was suffering with apparent ear and toe problems which kept him at a low ebb in a 6-2, 6-2 loss to American James Blake.

The team are tied 1-1, with the defending champion US having no chance to enter the finals.

Local heroine Casey Dellacqua won her first match a the event after two defeats, stopping Meghann Shaughnessy - returning from a knee injury which kept her out for almost all of last season - 6-3, 6-4.

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