Perth | The Swiss and US teams get off to good starts
The Hopman Cup got underway in Perth with two of the favourite nations for the mixed title coming through their opening ties relatively comfortably.
The spotlight though was on te second tie of the day featuring Roger Federer as he led the Swiss team with partner Belinda Bencic, to a 3-0 victory over Japan.
The world number two had returned to Perth in a bid to replicate his successful run of 2017 and he certainly got off to a good start with a straight sets win over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita.
Bencic then followed by scoring a similar win over Naomi Osaka.
I’m healthy and had a great off season,. The body’s great, it couldn’t be better, so I couldn’t be happier.Roger Federer
Federer admitted after his 6-4 6-3 victory that he was pleased with his game and that he was ready for the 2018 season in better from than 12 months ago.
“I feel much more in a rhythm,” he said. “Last year, I was like I hope I’m going to be able to hit my first serves, and I hope it’s going to work out as much as it did in the practice.
“I think all those question marks aren’t really there this time around, which is a nice thing. I think it was a great start.”
Bearing in mind that most of his rivals are recovering from injuries, he was pleased that he had no worries in that department.
“I’m healthy and had a great off season,” the 19-time 36 year-old Grand Slam champion said.
“The body’s great, it couldn’t be better, so I couldn’t be happier.”
And he proved it over the 66-minute match as he produced some trademark Federer strokes to the delight of the packed auditorium.
Bencic, ranked 98th in the world but continuing to rebuild her career after wrist surgery four months ago, then edged her way past Osaka, ranked 30 places higher at 68, winning 7-5 6-3 in 91 minutes.
In the mixed doubles the Swiss completed a clean sweep of the tie with a 2-4 4-1 4-3(1) win under the Fast4 format.
Earlier the United States pairing of CoCo Vandeweghe and Jack Sock triumphed 2-1 over a Russian team playing for the first time since 2010, this year represented by the duo of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Karen Khachanov.
The American pair, losing finalist last year to France, kick-started their bid to go one better this year with world number 10 Vandeweghe securing a 6-3 6-3 win over Pavluchenkova.
“Great straight sets win – it’s what you want, to get out there and feel comfortable again and playing a live match,” the American said.
“You train for this but it’s a little bit different when you have the crowd and the atmosphere behind you.
“It’s the great thing about coming to Hopman. You get so many high-quality players to come and compete and we’re all competing hard for our countries and to perform well for the Australian Open.
“I hope Jack feels the same with a bit of fire in the belly. I’d like to take home a trophy at the start of the year.”
Sock, ranked eighth in the world, recovered from a second set lapse to beat Khachanov, 6-4 1-6 6-3.
The Russians had a consolation victory in the mixed doubles rubber, winning 3-4(3) 4-1 4-2 under the Fast4 format
Scores from the Hopman Cup Mixed Teams tournament:
United States bt Russia 2-1
CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Jack Sock (USA) bt Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4 1-6 6-3
Pavlyuchenkova/Khachanov (RUS) bt Vandeweghe/Sock (USA) 3-4(3) 4-1 4-2
Switzerland bt Japan 3-0
Roger Federer (SUI) bt Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 6-4 6-3
Belinda Bencic (SUI) bt Naomi Osaka (JPN) 7-5 6-3
Bencic/Federer (SUI) bt Osaka/Sugita 2-4 4-1 4-3(1)