FED CUP DAY 3:
Day Three - November 9/2001
SPAIN - World No.5 Kim Clijsters and World No.6 Justine Henin led Belgium to a 3-0 victory over Australia in the Fed Cup Finals today with convincing straight sets wins.
Optus Australian Fed Cup Captain, Lesley Bowrey, substituted Rachel McQuillan in place of Nicole Pratt for the first singles match against 19-year-old Henin. Newcastle's McQuillan began the match in gutsy style, breaking the slightly built Belgian's serve in the second game to lead 2-0.
Although Henin immediately broke back, she appeared to take some time to work her way into the match allowing McQuillan to break her serve once more through a series of unforced errors. It was not until the tenth game that the trademark powerful backhand came into action and the Belgian powered away to a 75 win in the first set.
In the second set, the 2001 Wimbledon finalist displayed form that may one day achieve her goal of becoming number one in the world. Notwithstanding her delicate frame, Henin's deep powerful groundstrokes repeatedly pummeled the baseline and despite McQuillan's best efforts the Belgian captured the match 75 60.
Big-serving Alicia Molik was next on court facing French Open finalist, Kim Clijsters, for the second time in their careers with the Belgian leading 1-0. The 18-year-old made it clear from the beginning she would be living up to her reputation as a top 10 player, serving an ace on the first point of the match and breaking Molik in the second game.
Holding a 4-1 lead Clijsters allowed the Australian back into the match after a number of errors but was quick to recover claiming the first set 64. In the second set Molik was staring defeat in the face with Clijsters serving for the match but after eight deuce points as well as saving five match points, Molik broke the Belgian's serve.
But with a 5-3 lead, Clijsters was able to get back on track and claimed the match and the Tie for Belgium. Molik will be keen to avenge the loss at next year's Hopman Cup when the two are scheduled to play once again.
Clijsters then teamed up with Els Callens to take on McQuillan and Pratt in the doubles. In an entertaining match witnessed by a largely Belgian crowd, the Australians went down fighting 64 62.
In other matches, Spain defeated Germany 2-1 and will play Belgium tomorrow (10 November Spain) for a spot in the final. Belgium is favoured to win and is likely to face either France or Russia in Sunday's Final.