04 Jan 2018

Bencic books Switzerland's spot in Hopman Cup Final

News Article

Photo: SMP ImagesBelinda Bencic (SUI)

Switzerland booked its place in the 2018 Hopman Cup Final after singles wins for Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic gave them victory over USA on Thursday evening in Perth.

Federer defeated Sock 76(5) 75 before Bencic completed an impressive 76(6) 64 triumph over CoCo Vandewedghe to improve her winning streak to 21 matches.

Federer was at his flawless best in victory over Sock, but it was Bencic who starred for the Swiss with victory over one of last year’s most in-form players on the WTA circuit in world No. 10 Vandeweghe.

“I’m so happy, this feels amazing,” said Bencic. “Last year we were so close to getting into the final, I’m so relieved now. “We’ve made it after Roger won a great first point for us and I’m so glad I could close it out.

“Playing for your country is very special, whether it’s Fed Cup or Hopman Cup. I’m proud when I represent Switzerland and I hope we can do well in the final too.”

The Swiss team, who had already played in front of a record crowd at the Perth Arena in victory over Russia on Tuesday, were the centrepiece for another record on Thursday, with 14,029 fans in attendance – the first time the Perth Arena has played host to over 14,000 fans at the Hopman Cup.

And for Federer, largely responsible for the record-breaking crowds in Perth, victory over Sock means he continues his perfect preparation ahead of his title defence at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

“I’ve maintained a high level in all three matches, which is a great thing,” said Federer. “This was another step up in terms of ranking and I thought it was a very entertaining match for both of us and we got to interact with the crowd, which was great.”

Earlier in the day, Russia notched its first win in its final group game at the Hopman Cup after overcoming Japan in a deciding mixed doubles.

Japan took an early lead courtesy of Naomi Osaka’s battling 64 36 76(5) victory over world No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, but Karen Khachanov overcame Yuichi Sugita 64 62 to level proceedings before the Russians combined to see off Japan 4-1 4-0 in the mixed doubles.

“It feels really nice to win this [tie],” said Pavlyuchenkova. “We played a brilliant match and at least I’ve now won one tie, because I’ve been fighting, fighting everyday.”

Khachanov was similarly relieved to record his first singles victory of the week, having suffered defeats to Roger Federer and Jack Sock.  

“Finally I’ve won a match,” said the world No. 45. “It’s a nice feeling to play the best players in the world. We had a tough group, but I thought I played well in some tough matches.

“Today, it’s the start of the new year so you’re pumped, you’re trying to find your game and I’m happy to get the win.”

Osaka, who has been struggling with illness during her week in Perth, was also in buoyant mood after getting a singles win under her belt against Pavlyuchenkova, despite Japan ending the week with defeats to USA, Switzerland and Russia.

“I’m so happy to get through that match,” said Osaka. “I feel like being able to play against such a good player at that level, without feeling 100 per cent, I feel like I should be proud of myself.

“I just wanted to give the crowd an entertaining match and not play bad in my final match.”