Roger Federer, Serena Williams play in Hopman Cup mixed doubles, GOATs
Roger Federer came out on top in his highly anticipated match-up with Serena Williams to help Switzerland clinch their Hopman Cup tie against the United States 2-1.
Federer gave Switzerland a 1-0 lead with a 6-4 6-1 win over Frances Tiafoe. Williams then overcame a case of the first-set wobbles to post a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over Belinda Bencic, levelling the tie.
The mixed doubles clash was always going to hog the spotlight given it was the first time Federer had faced off against Williams in a competitive match. But the fact it would also decide the tie winner added extra intrigue. The US, who lost to Greece in their opening tie, needed to beat Switzerland to keep their title hopes alive.
But it was Switzerland who came out on top, winning the Fast4 format 4-2 4-3 (5-3) in 46 minutes.
“I really enjoyed playing against Tiafoe and Serena, what an honour, what a pleasure – thank you Serena,” Federer said. “I thought it was very entertaining.”
“It was a great experience, I’m kind of sad it’s over, I was just warming up,” Williams said. “It was so fun and as I said before, it’s something that after we grew up together, after all these years we’ve actually never done this. It’s super cool that we get to do this at such a pinnacle point in both our careers and for me it was super cool. I wanted to take pictures and wanted to bring my baby out – I was super excited.”
Switzerland, who have won both of their ties, will guarantee themselves a spot in the final with victory over Greece on Thursday night.
But even a 2-1 loss might be enough for them to sneak through. Williams enjoyed a strong opening service game in the mixed doubles, with two of her serves proving too difficult to handle for Federer.
But the class of Federer shone through during the quick-fire rallies, with Bencic unleashing some nice winners as well.
“I was nervous returning, because you just don’t know, people talk about (Serena’s) serve so much and I see why it is such a wonderful serve, because you can’t read it,” Federer said after the match. “It was a bit nervewracking, you were serving, especially the last serve at 3-all and I was like, ‘I’ve got to win this point’, but it’s Serena Williams. It was great, great fun and a great champion you see how focused and determined she is and I love that about her.”
Federer copped a ball to the face from Tiafoe during the match, but was able to laugh it off.
Williams grabbed at her right shoulder several times during the match, but was able to finish off the contest.
Earlier in the night, Williams raced out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set of her singles match, but Bencic won six of the next seven games to put her 37-year-old opponent on the back foot.
But Williams lifted in the big moments, breaking Bencic in the final game of the second set to level the scores, before powering to victory in the third. “It’s definitely a relief. She played really well,” Williams said after the match.
“I knew I could play better, so that was always something that was in my mind.” Federer was at his clinical best in his singles match.
“He’s the great of all time to be honest, both on the court and off it,” Serena said after the match. “He has such great charisma, he’s just a wonderful player. I think his serve is super underestimated, he has a killer serve, you can’t read it and there’s a reason why he’s the greatest because you can’t be that great and not have such an awesome weapon like that serve. I watch him all the time, but I never knew how amazing it was. Hopefully I get some tips later on on how to get a little better.”
From 4-4 in the first set, Federer won the next seven games to set up the easy win.
The second set took just 22 minutes as Tiafoe’s game imploded, with the world No.39 also struggling to maintain a high intensity.
Federer felt he handled Tiafoe’s power game well.
And the 20-time grand slam winner, who will attempt to win a third straight Australian Open title later this month, was satisfied with where his form and fitness is at.
“I think it’s just now about maintaining, making sure I stay healthy, stay fit and inspired out there, come up with good solutions and take the right decisions at the right time,” Federer said.
“That is the hard part in tennis – to keep that up.”
USA – WILLIAMS/TIAFOE 2 3
SWITZERLAND – BENCIC/FEDERER 4 4*
* denotes tie-break
Bencic and Federer won in straight sets (sets shortened to four games).
Match attendance: 14,064
Former Aussie tennis star and commentator Casey Dellacqua said this was a once in a lifetime event.
“I know we’ve built it up but it is one of these moments in tennis that you will never see this ever happen again, you will never see two players like Serena and Roger come up against each other,” she said.
“It’s very rare that they play doubles let alone mixed doubles, in a live rubber, in this environment, in this arena, it really is something special.”
Earlier, Williams said it was a relief to get past Bencic but was really looking forward to the mixed doubles.
“It’s super exciting for me and I just feel honoured to be on the court with him,” she said. “He’s had a fantastic career and it’s still going and we’re the exact same age so whatever he does, I’m trying to the same thing — if he’s not done I’m not done.
“We’ve been there since the 90s to be honest so it’s really cool to be on the same court. We’ve never done it and regardless of what happens, this is a moment I will always cherish.”
After Federer’s win, he agreed the square off between the champions seen as two of the greatest players of all time was on his mind.
“I hope I don’t get injured from here until the doubles,” Federer joked after his match.
“I’m going to stay on the bike. What a thrill it is to play Serena here tonight here in Perth.”
Federer, who beat world No. 91 Cameron Norrie 6-1 6-1 in his opening singles match, couldn’t blow away Tiafoe early.
But from 4-4 in the first set, Federer won the next seven games to romp to victory in 57 minutes.
At 37, Federer also proved he still had highlight reel shots in his bag.
The second set took just 22 minutes as Tiafoe’s game imploded, with the world No. 39 also struggling to maintain a high intensity.
The results mean Switzerland and the USA are locked at 1-all in their tie.
The US, who lost to Greece on Monday, need to win their tie against Switzerland to keep their Hopman Cup title hopes alive.
— with AAP