For the second consecutive year, Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic defeated Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber to retain the Hopman Cup in what could well be the last time the popular competition is played.
It's great fun. I'm happy, I'm proud to represent my country. It's been a super pleasure teaming with Belinda Roger Federer
The demise of this mixed team event has yet to be confirmed but it more than likely to become collateral damage, a victim thanks to the war between the ITF and ATP, with the latter’s ATP Cup scheduled for the same week next year.
While not an official tour event, the Hopman Cup provides players with and excellent opportunity to prepare for the season ahead beginning with the first major in Melbourne starting on Monday week.
That has certainly been the case with Federer who last year, after leading Switzerland to overall victory, went on to collect his 20th grand slam title at the Australian Open. And that is his aim this year.
Federer and Bencic beat the German pairing of Zverev and Kerber 2-1 in what was the same scenario as 12 months ago, the singles shared and the mixed doubles going the Swiss’s way.
It was the first time that a nation had successfully defended their title in the 31 years of the competition, with Federer himself becoming the first player to win the event three times, a record.
The 37-year-old beat world No.4 Zverev 6-4 6-2 in Saturday’s opening singles before Kerber leveled the score at 1-1 with a 6-4 7-6(6) victory over former top-10 player Bencic, 21, making her way back up the rankings following a year marred by injuries.
Federer and Bencic then clinched a 4-0 1-4 4-3(5-4) victory when Zverev hit the ball into the net on the winner-takes-all final point at 4-4 in the last rubber of the day, the mixed.
“What a thrill it was — not just the match point, but also the whole match and the whole week,” said Federer.
“It’s great fun. I’m happy, I’m proud to represent my country. It’s been a super pleasure teaming with Belinda.”
It was Switzerland’s fourth title overall behind only the United States with six, the first win coming in 1992 with Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere and Jakob Hlasek.
Federer first won the Hopman Cup back in 2001 when he teamed up with Martina Hingis.
“I am very happy for these records, although I didn’t come here for that,” Federer commented later.
In contrast the defeated Germans were despondent with Zverev declaring it was a tough pill to swallow. “We really wanted to win as a team,” the young German said.
“We came so close – we were one shot away!”