02 Jan 2018

Swiss roll on in front of record crowd in Perth

News Article

Photo: SMP ImagesRoger Federer (SUI)

Switzerland overcame stubborn resistance from Russia to win their Hopman Cup encounter in front of a record crowd at the Perth Arena on Tuesday evening.

Roger Federer defeated Karen Khachanov 6-3 7-6(8) and Belinda Bencic rallied past world No.15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 3-6 6-3, before the pair combined to win the mixed doubles 4-3(1) 3-4(3) 4-1 to maintain Switzerland’s perfect start in Perth.

It was a testing encounter for both Swiss, with Federer, in particular, impressed by Khachanov’s free-swinging approach to their match.

“I thought the intensity was great, the level was very high too,” said Federer. “Karen got off to a great start, me too actually. He put me under pressure early on and then we caught a great spell, an exhibition of serving for 45 minutes or so.

“The tiebreak was close, it was good to play that early on in the season, to play those nervy situations with the pulse up high, you’re sweating loads. The match had a bit of everything, so I’m very happy with the performance.”

An impressive 13,943 fans piled into the Perth Arena to watch the encounter – with Federer surpassing his own record for the highest attendance in Perth.

“I really don’t take it for granted,” Federer told the crowd after his triumph. “I think it’s what keeps me on Tour if I’m honest. If I had to play on outside courts, or in empty stadiums, I think the passion would go away a bit.”

Later, Bencic thumped 38 winners to see off world No. 15 Pavlyuchenkova.

“We played some really good tennis. It wasn’t easy, we were obviously nervous playing in front of so many people,” said Bencic, whose impressive comeback from injury continues to gather pace.

“I wanted to fight my way back without taking wildcards into bigger tournaments and maybe losing in early rounds. I really wanted to work my ranking up again and get my confidence back.”

The Swiss will take on USA in their final round robin contest on Thursday after the Americans, also unbeaten this week, were handed a walkover victory over Japan earlier in the day due to the withdrawal of Naomi Osaka through illness.

Australians Maddison Inglis and Pat Cash stepped in to play their part in an entertaining exhibition contest at the Perth Arena, but USA’s hopes of winning the Hopman Cup for a seventh time suffered a blow when Jack Sock took a fall and had to retire during his singles match against Yuichi Sugita.

The world No. fell and injured his hip during the opening set against Sugita but, after receiving treatment at the break, called it a day when trailing 76(1) 1-1.

On the bright side for the Americans, Vandeweghe, who had defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during her first tie in Perth, produced another convincing display to see off Osaka’s replacement, Australian youngster Maddison Inglis, 75 62 in the opening match of the afternoon session.

“I want to congratulate Maddy for coming out here,” said Vandeweghe. “She did herself proud, played really well and was a tough opponent.

“Congrats to her because it’s not easy coming out with such little time to prepare at the last minute. It shows what a high quality player she is and she made it very difficult for me.”

Inglis and Sugita combined to win a mixed doubles encounter 0-4 4-3(2) 4-0 against world No. 10 Vandeweghe and her coach Pat Cash.

“I didn’t have too much time to think about playing today, which is probably a good thing. It’s up there as one of my best days, it was awesome” said Inglis, while Japanese partner Sugita added: “It was perfect. It was a great experience to face such a legend.”