The United States beat the Netherlands 2-1 to claim their third Hopman Cup title in four years yesterday.

The American mixed doubles pairing of Taylor Dent and Lisa Raymond came through a tight battle against Michaella Krajicek and Peter Wessels, winning 4-6 6-2 10-8 to clinch the tie after the singles rubbers were split.

The final set of the mixed doubles was decided by a first-to-10 super tiebreak.

Earlier, 16-year-old Krajicek gave the Netherlands a promising start when she edged veteran Raymond 6-4 7-6 before Dent took just 46 minutes to defeat Wessels 6-1 6-4.

The United States, playing in their eighth final, added to their titles in 1997, 2003 and 2004.

Krajicek struggled to dominate a player double her age, converting just two of 11 break points and making 49 unforced errors compared to 30 winners.

Dent's serve was working to perfection as he fired 13 aces on his way to a comfortable victory over Wessels. He crashed down three aces in the opening game, and once Wessels had held for 1-1 the American became almost unplayable.

Wessels netted a backhand to give Dent a break for 3-1, and the American struck a perfectly placed backhand pass into the corner to break for 5-1.

After closing out the opening set with three consecutive aces, Dent broke Wessels and won eight of the first nine points at the start of the second to seize control.

o Martina Hingis was defeated in the semi-finals of her comeback tournament yesterday when she lost 1-6 7-6 6-2 to Italian Flavia Pennetta at the Australian hardcourt championships. Hingis showed glimpses of the skills that took her to five grand slam titles but faded after romping through the first set. Pennetta will now meet Lucie Safarova in the final.

o Serena Williams withdrew from an exhibition tournament in Hong Kong yesterday because of a knee injury, raising concerns the American title-holder could miss this month's Australian Open. Serena was due to play China's Zheng Jie but pulled out before the match.

o Andre Agassi will begin his 2006 season at the San Jose Open in February. The American, who withdrew on Wednesday from the Australian Open after failing to recover from a lingering ankle injury, will attempt to win a sixth title at the event which begins on February 13.

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