Switzerland have earned the bragging rights over the USA following their 2-1 win over the Americans in today’s only Hopman Cup tie played in Perth.
It was a great experience and I am kind of sad it’s over Serena Williams
The clash between the two favourites for a place in the final out of Group B, included the much heralded clash between the two GOATS of the modern tennis era, namely those 37-year-olds, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, who met in the deciding mixed doubles rubber after the two nations split, as expected, their singles rubbers.
First up was Roger Federer who took on one of the rising Next Gen stars, Frances Tiafoe and promptly dismissed in straight sets.
While the Swiss No.1 wasn’t at his best, he was still capable of seeing off the young pretender in under the hour, 6-4 6-1 after surviving eight closely fought games at the start of the match.
“The good thing is I’ve played him a little bit already,” Federer said. “I’ve seen him playing a lot at the Laver Cup as well.”
However he was satisfied with his performance and was looking forward to the prospect of playing Serena Williams in a few hours time. “I played another good match, I’m very happy. A great start to the season for me.”
He then promised to keep warm for the match, adding: “What a thrill it is to play Serena here tonight. I’ll stay on the bike and keep the engine on.”
He then surprised everyone by revealing: “I had a really late night last night on New Year’s Eve,” he said, before declaring after a pause: “No I’m joking!”
The second singles proved a much tighter affair. Again, the star expected to swamp her opponent, was not at her complete best. Serena William’s serve was misfiring in the opening set and even though she led 4-1 in that opener, Belinda Bencic overran her with five consecutive games to claim the set!
Williams recovered her poise in the second and after an hour and 40-minutes had levelled the tie 4-6 6-4 6-3.
“It was a definitely a relief,” a relieved Williams said. “She played really well but I knew I could play better.”
Then the inevitable question on the mixed doubles rubber and facing Roger Federer on a tennis court.
“It’s super exciting,” Williams replied. “I just feel honoured to be on the same court as him. He has had a fantastic career and it’s not done yet. We are the exact same age and anything he’s done I want to do.”
“We have been there since the Nineties. Regardless of what happens, this is a moment I will always cherish.”
And so to the much anticipated mixed doubles rubber in which the two players with 43 grand slam titles between them, would be competing against each other for the first time in their long and illustrious careers. And the 14,064 crowd loved it!
Williams held up her end as expected though she found the Federer serve tricky on more than one occasion. However, she served well despite her constant worrying of her right shoulder which could mean she is carrying some minor – and unconfirmed – injury.
But it was the Swiss who served to a high standard in the opening set, breaking Tiafoe in the fifth game of the short set scoring employed in the doubles. Bencic secured the break with a return winner leaving Federer to claim the set which he did to love.
The Swiss saved a break point in the fourth game of the second set and then went to win the tie break after a great volley from Federer, closing out the tie 4-2 4-3(5-3) and virtually guaranteeing themselves a place in the final with only Greece standing in their way.
In the interim, Williams described Federer as the greatest of all time (GOAT). “It was a great experience and I am kind of sad it’s over,” Williams said. “It was so fun and it’s something that growing up, we grew up together really, just watching and having an opportunity after all these years we’ve actually never done this so it’s just super cool that we get to do this at such a pinnacle point in both our careers. I wanted take pictures, I wanted to bring my baby out, I’m like way too excited!”
Federer meanwhile admitted he was nervous trying to close out the match and facing Williams’ serve.
“People talk about her serve so much and I see why it is such a wonderful serve because you just can’t read it, you don’t see until the very end,” he said.
“It was great, great fun. She is a great champion and you see how focused and determined she is and I love that about her.”