Federer leads Switzerland to third Hopman Cup title

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Svitolina wins Brisbane; Kyrgios beats Dimitrov in semis

Roger Federer (left), and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland hoist the Hopman Cup after defeating Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber of Germany in the mixed doubles final on day eight of the Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth on Jan 6. (AFP)

PERTH, Australia, Jan 6, (Agencies): Switzerland won their third Hopman Cup on Saturday as Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic beat Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber 4-3(3) 4-2 in the deciding mixed doubles to secure a 2-1 victory in the final at the Perth Arena. It was Federer’s second Hopman Cup triumph after victory in 2001 alongside then world number one Martina Hingis.

Federer had earlier roared back from a set down to beat Zverev 6-7(4) 6-0 6-2 and give the Swiss a 1-0 lead. Unbeaten in three singles matches in the tournament before the final as he prepares to defend his Australian Open title later this month, the 19-time grand slam champion failed to wrap up the first set despite hitting 20 winners. However, it was only a matter of time before the 36-year-old Federer found his groove as he raced to win the second set 6-0 before sealing victory in the decider with a drop shot. The tie went to a mixed doubles decider after Kerber continued her strong start to the campaign under new coach Wim Fissette by beating Bencic 6-4 6-1 to level the score at 1-1.

World number four Zverev finished with one singles win from four matches in a patchy preparation ahead of the year’s first grand slam at Melbourne Park starting on Jan. 15. In Brisbane, Australia, Elina Svitolina secured her first WTA title in Australia with a straight-sets victory in the Brisbane International final on Saturday, while Nick Kyrgios moved a step closer to claiming his first ATP title on home soil with a semifinal win over defending champion Grigor Dimitrov. Third-seeded Svitolina beat Belarusian qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-1 in a lopsided night final to win her 10th title on the women’s elite tour.

Kyrgios hit 19 aces in a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over top-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, who was playing his first tournament since winning the season-ending ATP Finals and rising to a career-high No. 3 ranking. Dimitrov dictated terms in the opening set but had few answers when Kyrgios went on the offensive in the second and third sets. Third-seeded Kyrgios, who won all three of his ATP titles in 2016, will face American Ryan Harrison in Sunday’s championship match. After his first win in three head-toheads with Dimitrov, Krygios is confident.

Kyrgios had two double-faults — against six from Dimitrov — was broken only once and won more than 80 percent of points when he got his first serve into play. As for the final, Kyrgios said he’d worked himself into the tournament and was ready to win a title with little more than a week to go before the Australian Open, the first major of the season. Harrison reached his third tour-level final with a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over Alex De Minaur, the 18-year-old Australian wild-card entry. De Minaur, who defeated former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic in the second round, was two points from another upset when he led 5-3 in the second- set tiebreaker.

But Harrison went on a roll to win the last four points of the tiebreaker to level the match, then got two early breaks to lead 4-0 in the third set to take control of the match. Harrison was scheduled to partner Dimitrov in a doubles semifinal later Saturday but withdrew from the match, giving top-seeded John Peers and Henri Kontinen a spot in the final. In Shenzhen, China, world number one Simona Halep fired a warning to her Australian Open rivals on Saturday, beating Katerina Siniakova in three sets to win the Shenzhen Open.

The Romanian saw off the reigning champion from the Czech Republic 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 in 72 rollercoaster minutes in southern China. The 26-year-old Halep is guaranteed top seeding for the Australian Open, the season’s first Grand Slam which begins in Melbourne on January 15. In Wellington, top seed Caroline Wozniacki battled through two matches within the space of just over four hours to set up a final against second seed Julia Goerges at the Auckland Classic on Saturday. Heavy rain throughout the week in New Zealand’s largest city had caused havoc with the schedule, forcing organisers to play the quarter-finals and both semi-finals on Saturday and move the final to Sunday.

The Dane struggled in her earlier quarter-final against the 19-year-old American wildcard Sofia Kenin before winning the rain-affected match 4-6 6-2 6-4 just before 4pm (0300 GMT). She returned to centre court at the Auckland Tennis Centre at about 5.50pm and then comfortably accounted for American qualifier Sachia Vickery, who had earlier upset third seed Agnieskza Radwanksa, in the 6-4 6-4 win. Goerges, who lost to American Sloane Stephens in the 2016 Auckland final, was far more comfortable in both of her matches. She beat Polona Hercog 6-4 6-4 in the quarter-finals before moving into the final with a 6-1 6-4 win over Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei. Wozniacki, who lost the Auckland final to Venus Williams in 2015 and has been a tournament regular in recent years, can move up to number two in the world rankings if she wins the title on Sunday. In Pune, India, Gilles Simon won his first major ATP Tour title since 2015 when the Frenchman defeated secondseeded Kevin Anderson 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the final of the Maharashtra Open on Saturday.

The World No. 89 Simon was in supreme form in the opening week of the new year as he also defeated defending champion Roberto Bautisa Agut in the second round and stunned top- seeded Marin Cilic in the semifinals. It was also Simon’s first win against Anderson, having lost the previous three matches on hard courts. Simon earned 250 ATP ranking points and bagged $89,435 while Anderson left Pune with 150 points and a purse of $47,105. In Doha, France’s Gael Monfils won the Qatar Open final in straight sets on Saturday, brushing aside Russia’s Andrey Rublev in a one-sided final, 6-2, 6-3. It was the Frenchman’s first Qatar title despite having played in three previous finals and he is the first wildcard to win in Doha since compatriot Nicolas Escude triumphed back in 2004. The 31-year-old, who arrived in Qatar after a four-month break due to a knee injury, dominated throughout.

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