Roger Federer outplayed Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-1, 6-1 to secure a winning start for the defending champions Switzerland at the Hopman Cup in Perth on Sunday .
Gearing up for his Australian Open title defence, Federer overcame three break points in his opening service game before rediscovering his rhythm to race to a 5-0 lead.
With 18 winners and four aces, Federer wrapped up the opening set in 31 minutes as Norrie struggled to match Federer’s crisp stroke-making.
Federer’s playing partner Belinda Bencic beat Katie Boulter 6-2, 7-6 in the women’s contest to clinch Switzerland’s victory in the round-robin stage.
The 37-year-old Federer, has won the last two Australian Open titles after taking part in the mixed-team tournament in Perth. “This was a great start but obviously there’s a long way to go here and in Melbourne,” the world No 3 said. “It’s nice I’m feeling as good as I am and played a wonderful match against Cameron.”
Switzerland play USA on New Year’s Day, with Federer, a 20-times grand slam winner, set to play the 23-times grand slam winner Serena Williams in the mixed doubles. The match pits arguably the two greatest players of all time against each other in their first contest on court.
Norrie, the world No 91, beat the Greek world No 15 Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets for the biggest win of his career on Saturday. Great Britain return to Hopman Cup action on Thursday.
“I admire everything she has done both on and off the court,” Federer said. “I have always thought how is it to return that serve and go head-to-head with her.
“It’s very exciting for us. I hope tennis fans tune in and watch it because it’s going to be one time and probably never again in this type of competition.
“I don’t know her that well. I only know her from some champions’ dinners at Wimbledon. We have busy lives and a big entourage, so it’s rare to really deep dive. We can relate to each other more so now, being parents.”
Last year’s runners-up Germany made a triumphant return when Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber recorded hard-fought victories in their singles matches.
Coming off a title win at the season-ending ATP Finals in London, Zverev countered his 45 unforced errors with 39 winners and eight aces to beat Spain’s David Ferrer 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.
After the match, Zverev paid tribute to former world No 3, who will retire next year at the age of 36. “All the credit is [to] David, coming back from a set down and break down,” Zverev said.
“He is the greatest fighter, maybe, that we have ever seen in tennis. What he has done in tennis over the past 15 or 20 years has been absolutely amazing.”
Kerber, the world No 2, beat Garbiñe Muguruza 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to end a five-match losing streak against the two-times grand slam winner.
Roger Federer is relishing the chance to play against Serena Williams as he begins his 2019 season at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia.
Federer enjoyed another sensational year on the ATP Tour in 2018, the Swiss native winning four titles, including a 20th Grand Slam at the Australian Open.
Despite turning 37 in August, Federer claimed 48 wins across the year and continues to flourish, something he hopes to carry into 2019.
First up is the mixed-team exhibition event in Australia where Federer will look to defend Switzerland's title with Belinda Bencic.
The group stage of the event will see Federer and Bencic face Williams and United States teammate Frances Tiafoe, and it is a match the world No. 3 cannot wait for.
"We'll probably play it down a little bit and say it's not that big of a deal for us, it's just another tennis match, but it really isn't because it's probably going to happen once and never again," Federer said. "That's why I hope we're both going to be injury free when that day comes around."
Federer will use the event as part of his Australian Open preparation, where he is looking for a third successive title, and he says his training has been going well.
"I've been very happy with how the offseason went," he added. "The last three or four weeks have been very intense. I'm very excited and motivated for this next season.
"A lot of things need to happen to win any slam. I hope that again it will be the start of a great season for me because the last two seasons have been crazy good for me."
The Australian Open will introduce final-set tiebreaks from next month.
The deciding set in singles and doubles will draw to a conclusion after 6-6 using the longer of the tiebreak formats – first to 10 points.
The decision comes following the most extensive consultation in the tournament’s history.
“We asked the players – both past and present, commentators, agents and TV analysts whether they wanted to play an advantage final set or not, and went from there,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
“We went with a 10-point tiebreak at six games all in the final set to ensure the fans still get a special finale to these often epic contests, with the longer tiebreak still then allowing for that one final twist or change of momentum in the contest. This longer tiebreak also can lessen some of the serving dominance that can prevail in the shorter tiebreak.
“We believe this is the best possible outcome for both the players and the fans around the world,” Tiley added.
The Australian Open 2019, the first Slam of the season, will take place at Melbourne Park from January 14 to 27.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has announced that, as of 2019, matches that reach 12-12 in the final set at the Wimbledon Championships will now go to a tie-break in an effort to end never-ending matches, such as Kevin Anderson's mammoth victory over John Isner earlier this year.
The men’s semi-final between the pair became the second-longest match in Grand Slam history after lasting more than six-and-a-half hours, with the South African Anderson eventually prevailing in exhausting circumstances.
American Isner was also involved in the longest ever match recorded when he beat Nicolas Mahut in 2010, with their first round encounter at Wimbledon finishing in a 70-68 final set that spanned over three days.
But this year’s semi-final will be the last of its kind after the AELTC announced on Friday that, after considerable review of the last two decades at SW19 along with players and officials, a first-to-seven tie-break will be used when the scores reach 12-12 in the fifth set – though players must still have an advantage of two clear points as is used throughout all over sets under the previous rules.
“In reaching this decision, the AELTC Committee sought the feedback of both players and officials, analysed two decades of match data, and considered other factors including scheduling complexities and spectator experience,” said AELTC chairman Philip Brook.
“Our view was that the time had come to introduce a tie-break method for matches that had not reached their natural conclusion at a reasonable point during the deciding set. While we know the instances of matches extending deep into the final set are rare, we feel that a tie-break at 12-12 strikes an equitable balance between allowing players ample opportunity to complete the match to advantage, while also providing certainty that the match will reach a conclusion in an acceptable timeframe.
“As a next step, we look forward to sharing further details with our Grand Slam, ITF, WTA and ATP colleagues when we meet in Singapore.”
Towards the end of each year, the firing and hiring of coaching staff – or often a more simple and amicable parting of ways – becomes the topic du jour in tennis.
This season is no different. So to keep up with it all, here’s a look at which players have recently made changes their coaching personnel. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The former world No.5 announced he would be adding Sergi Bruguera to his team for the 2019 season. “I look forward to being able to start working together and meet new challenges,” said Tsonga, in a translated version of his tweet. The Frenchman is currently ranked outside the world’s top 250, having returned to the tour in September after seven months away due to left knee surgery. He continues to work with Thierry Ascione as well. Bruguera, meanwhile, will also continue his role as Spanish Davis Cup captain.
The Australian revealed she would reunite with childhood coach Nick Watkins for the Australian summer in January. Stosur recently completed a two-week training block on the Gold Coast with Watkins and loved the experience. “We (Watkins and I) did a lot things on court obviously, we kind of went back to basics I guess in a lot of ways. Worked on a number of different things, I really enjoyed it,” she said. “We had breakfast on Sunday so I was like ‘so what do you reckon (about continuing)?” Earlier in November, Stosur parted ways with Josh Eagle, her coach of two years.
After several fruitful years – the zenith being Halep’s victory at Roland Garros earlier this year – the Romanian and coach Darren Cahill will no longer work together. In what appears to be an entirely amicable parting of ways, Cahill wrote on Instagram: “After much thought and discussion, and many years with 30 plus weeks on the road away from my family, I’ve decided to take a 12 month break from coaching to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives with the final year of high school, sports and college preparations all becoming more time consuming. I’d like to thank Simona for the last 4 amazing years.” Halep replied on Twitter: “I was lucky to have you and what a journey we had. Wishing you and your family nothing but the best and I’m sure I’ll see you soon!”
Halep has since said she will start the 2019 season without a coach. “I thought about it and I will not have a coach in the following period. I want to go to some tournaments on my own and we’ll see how that goes,” the world No.1 told Romanian press. Angelique Kerber
The Wimbledon champion will link up with fellow German Rainer Schuettler, the retired ATP player who reached the Australian Open 2003 final. As reported on WTA Insider, the former world No.5 will replace Wim Fissette, from whom Kerber separated before the WTA Finals after less than a year together. “I am really looking forward to the opportunity of working with Angelique during this phase of her career,” Schuettler said in a statement. “She has obviously shown what a great champion she is and I hope my experience can bring a fresh perspective to an already strong team.” In a statement re Fissette from Kerber’s management team translated by Germany’s Tennis Magazine, the split was “due to different views in regards to the future collaboration.” Added Kerber: “We were talking a lot. When you decide also like to not working anymore … if you know it (that’s) why I decide to split before (the WTA Finals). There were some details, but I don’t want to go too deep into the details.”
The Ukrainian has promoted hitting partner Andrew Bettles to be her new head coach after a career week at the WTA Finals. Bettles has been working as Svitolina’s main coach since she parted ways with Thierry Ascione after the US Open and worked briefly with Nick Saviano during the Asian swing. “I’m the kind of person that I like something fresh,” she said in Singapore. “I think we (Ascione and I) got a little bit stuck that moment. For me, was just, yeah, the time to move forward … the career is not that long.” Victoria Azarenka
Bertens has added former player and countrywoman Elise Tamaela as a part-time coach and travelling physio. Tamaela served as interim coach for Bertens’ during her title run in Charleston this year. Dutchman Raemon Sluiter will stay on as the world No.9’s full-time coach in 2019.
Sakkari has hired Mark Petchey as her new coach for 2019. Petchey coached Andy Murray during his rise to the top 50 but more recently has been providing ATP analysis for BBC, Sky Sports and ITC. Sakkari split with Thomas Johansson at the end of this season.
Former world No.4 Konta has locked up Dimitri Zavialoff – former coach to Swiss players Stan Wawrinka and Timea Bacsinszky – after recently separating from Michael Joyce. Following a first-round loss at the US Open, Konta said of Joyce: “I still definitely feel we’re doing good work. I think you need to give things time. I feel, yeah, happy with the relationship that we have.” Within six weeks, the relationship ended.
The Austrian’s co-coach Galo Blanco has announced he will focus on his new role as part of the Davis Cup executive committee, and therefore cannot continue to work with Thiem. Blanco joined Thiem’s entourage in late 2017 to work alongside long-time coach Gunter Bresnik. “That’s a shame. That was a really good collaboration, but it does not work anymore. He can not go on tour with anyone,” said Thiem at the Vienna Open, in an interview translated from German. Thiem will continue to work with Bresnik, but admitted in the same interview he was looking for a new touring coach to replace Blanco.
Meanwhile, the Canadian former top-five player has snapped up Joyce. Their first tournament together was last week’s WTA Luxembourg Open, where Bouchard started in the qualifying rounds and won six straight matches to reach the semifinals. Joyce is the fourth coach Bouchard has worked with in 2018.
Pliskova is one of the rare players showing faith in female coaches, revealing in Singapore she will keep working with Rennae Stubbs and Conchita Martinez in a co-coaching arrangement through the off-season and next year’s Australian summer circuit. Pliskova split with Czech coach Tomas Krupa at the start of the US summer and re-united with Stubbs, whom she worked with briefly in late 2017. Martinez came in for the US Open fortnight while Stubbs was unavailable.
I was honestly most shocked about Cahill splitting with Simona, given how much success they had together this year.
It'll be interesting to see what sort of impact this has on her hopefully it won't shake things up too much and she is able to continue what she started this year.
Angie Kerber spitting with Fissette was the other big surprise, but I think in her case it will be a good one, since I've heard those 2 have had a lot of differences of opinion in the later part of the year especially (it sort of showed in Angie's performances).
So I think in her case it'll be a largely positive change.
I also hope Genie Bouchard and Victoria Azaranka can make some in roads on tour next season.
It should be an intriguing one, I'm really looking forward to it. Just another month to go.