Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic played sparkling tennis to beat Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber 4-0 1-4 4-3(4) in the deciding mixed doubles rubber and retain the Hopman Cup in Perth.
The tournament’s exciting conclusion was set up by a 6-4 6-2 win for Federer over Zverev and a 6-4 7-6(6) win for Kerber over Bencic.
Federer and Bencic were virtually flawless in the opening set. They secured two easy holds, punished some lacklustre serving from Zverev to earn an early break, and then took Kerber’s serve apart to clinch it 4-0 in just 13 minutes.
To their immense credit, the German pair responded superbly. They served a lot better and broke both Swiss players’ serves to turn things around completely and win the second set 4-1.
As so often in three-set matches, the decider was much closer. After Zverev handed Federer and Bencic an early break with a double-fault, all four players held serve in consecutive games for the only time in the match to move the score along to 3-2 to the Swiss.
That left Federer with the chance to serve for the title, and most viewers would have expected him to take it. However, Zverev and Kerber had other ideas.
First, the German woman produced a stunning forehand around the net post to win the opening point. Then Zverev pounced on a weak volley form the Swiss man to make it 0-30.
The Germans made it 0-40 when Zverev hit a superb low return to set Kerber up for a decisive volley, and then sealed the break two points later when Federer netted a backhand volley.
Federer and Bencic win thrilling tie-break
In the tie-break, the Germans combined well to earn an immediate mini-break, only for the Swiss to peg them back immediately with some good tactics of their own.
Bencic then fired down a big serve which Zverev was unable to return, before the German hit a backhand volley into Federer’s knee to level the score again.
The Swiss got the better of a wonderful rally to move ahead, but a big serve from Zverev kept the final on a knife-edge at 3-3.
And it was the Germans who earned the first chance to win it when Zverev hit a superb return that bisected Federer and Bencic.
However, the Swiss were far from done. Federer sent an excellent serve out wide and then put away an easy volley to make it 4-4 and championship point for both teams.
What a point it turned out to be. Zverev returned a wide serve from Federer and then the Germans tried everything to get the ball past the Swiss at the net.
But Federer and Bencic kept their cool, and it was the 21-year-old who got the champagne moment when she hit a low volley that Zverev could only re-direct into the net.
Federer produces his best to beat Zverev
Earlier in the day, Federer and Zverev set the standard with a high-quality opening singles match which began with an exhibition of great serving, as both players held with ease in the first five games.
In a sign of things to come, the Swiss then put the German under plenty of pressure in his next two service games.
Zverev dug in to hold both times, but Federer eventually broke down his resistance in the tenth game of the opening set to take it 6-4.
The 20-time Grand Slam threatened to run away with the second set when he charged into a 3-0 lead. However, the World No.4 demonstrated his willingness to fight. He secured two gutsy holds to just about stay in the contest at 2-5.
Unfortunately for Zverev, Federer found another gear. He played some excellent shots to break the German again and seal a straight-sets win.
Kerber holds off strong Bencic challenge
The standard remained high during an absorbing women’s singles encounter between Kerber and Bencic.
It was the German who made a stronger start as she opened up a 3-0 lead in the first set. But the Swiss then gained a foothold by earning a break in game four and holding serve in game five.
Bencic almost made it three games in a row when she had three chances to break in game six. However, she was unable to take any of them and it ultimately cost her as Kerber secured two far easier holds to finish off the set 6-4.
The second set was terrific entertainment. The Swiss raised her level and pushed the three-time Grand Slam champion all the way.
Although she dropped serve in the opening game, Bencic never let it bother her and eventually broke back in game ten.
By this stage, the Swiss was clearly the aggressor, as most points ended when she either hit a winner or made an unforced error.
Unfortunately for Bencic, she made too many of the latter in game nine and lost her serve again. However, she bounced back immediately to force a tie-break.
At this point, Kerber’s experience showed. She worked the Swiss around the court intelligently to establish a 6-4 lead, and then refused to panic when Bencic drew level.
First, she produced a brilliant backhand return that was too hot for the World No.54 to handle. Then she forced Bencic wide to set herself up to hit the backhand winner that sealed victory.
Tennis Stars Voice Concerns Over Staging Tokyo Olympics
After being delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, top players such as Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori still have reservations.
Japan’s top male tennis player Kei Nishikori has questioned how much preparation the IOC and local officials in his home country has prepared for a ‘worst-case’ scenario of hosting the Olympics.
The four-year event has already been postponed by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some have called for the sporting extravaganza to be scrapped. Recently governors of nine Japanese prefectures said there should be an option to suspend or even cancel the Olympics altogether if cases in the region can’t be kept under control. Three of those governors are in charge of cities set to stage Olympic events.
Weighing in on the debate, former US Open finalist Nishikori raises doubts over how organisers plan to hold a safe event given the high number of athletes that will be present, which is an estimated 11,000. Japan has already said that overseas fans are banned and international athletes will not be able to bring relatives with them to minimise the risk.
“I don’t know what they are thinking, and I don’t know how much they are thinking about how they are going to make a bubble, because this is not 100 people like these tournaments,” Nishikori said after his first-round match at the Italian Open on Monday.
“It’s 10,000 people in the village. So I don’t think it’s easy, especially what’s happening right now in Japan. It’s not doing good. Well, not even (just) Japan. You have to think all over the world right now.”
The world No.45 expresses a view similar to the of four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka who said earlier this week that she was ‘not sure’ if the event should go ahead due to the current case numbers.
“I’m an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I want to play in the Olympics,” she said.
“But as a human, I would say we’re in a pandemic, and if people aren’t healthy, and if they’re not feeling safe, then it’s definitely a really big cause for concern.”
In the latest figures published by health officials, Tokyo reported 925 news cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday which is an increase of almost 400 compared to the previous day. Although Monday figures are usually low due to the closure of testing centres over the weekend. Tuesday’s number is higher compared to this time last week (609 cases) and two weeks ago (828 cases).
Besides the COVID-19 concerns, the prospect of having to go to the Games without a member of family could result in the absence of four-time gold medallist Serena Williams. The former world No.1 says she is undecided on playing the event and hasn’t been separated from her three-year-old daughter for more than 24 hours before.
“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself,” said Williams.
“I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about.
“Then there are the Grand Slams. It’s just a lot. So I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”
Besides athlete concerns, Olympic organisers are also facing falling public support. A recent poll conducted by newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun found that nearly 60% of respondents wanted the Games to be cancelled. Furthermore TBS news reported 65% of people surveyed in another poll wanted the event either cancelled or suspended again, with 37% supporting the cancellation and 28% in favour of suspension.
The Olympic tennis event is set to start on July 24th.
Top Tennis Tournaments Among 97 Events UK Sport Hopes To Host Over The Next Decade
A plan for the ‘greatest decade of extraordinary sporting moments’ in the UK has been published and tennis is among the sports officials are interested in.
The government agency responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport within Great Britain has said they could submit an application to host two team tennis events over the next decade.
UK Sport has labelled both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup Finals as an ‘opportunity’ for them to host in their 10-year strategic plan which will last until 2021. Overall the country is looking at the possibility of staging 97 events across 44 sports over the next 10 years. Those behind the plan believe such a move could generate a total of £7 billion for the UK economy. A live feasibility study is already underway for bidding to host the 2030 football World Cup, 2026 European Athletic Championships and more.
“Together we have achieved so much in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Nevertheless, we are very aware there is no room for complacency and that we must build on our success to create the next exciting phase of high-performance sport,” UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger said in a statement.
“One where we work even more collaboratively and inclusively to keep winning and win well, in ways that will inspire more people and have a broader impact on our society.
“Achieving on the world stage will still sit firmly at the heart of what we do. But we should not underestimate the powerful platform that provides us with, and it is our shared responsibility to better harness this for positive social change.”
When it comes to both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup, UK Sport has categorized them as a mega event. Meaning they are ‘seen as the pinnacle of their sport at World level and which have significant staging costs, attract more than 100,000 live spectators, entail considerable delivery complexity and require extensive public funding and guarantee commitments.’ At present they have been labelled as an ‘opportunity’ by the agency. Meaning that no decision to bid to host them has been made yet but remains a good possibility.
The government made no reference to what venues could be used, especially regarding the tennis events which will require more than one court due to the change of the tournament in recent years. The finals of the team events now last for a week or so and are done initially in a group format before turning into a knock-out stage.
This year’s Davis Cup finals are taking place across three European cities. However, the women’s equivalent remains in doubt after the ITF ended their contract with the Hungarian Tennis Association who were meant to be holding the event. Hungary recently sent a letter saying it was no longer feasible to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UK is best known for its staging of the prestigious Wimbledon Championships, as well as other grass-court events. Furthermore, it also experienced great success in hosting the ATP Finals between 2009-2020 which attracted more than 2.8 million visitors during that period.
Billie Jean King Cup Finals In Doubt After ‘Surprise’ Withdrawal By Host Hungary
Organisers face a race again time to find a new venue if they wish to hold the event this season which has already been postponed twice.
The International Tennis Federation has been dealt a blow after the Hungarian Tennis Association (HTA) said it is no longer feasible for them to host their premier women’s team event.
The finals of the Billie Jean King Cup, which was previously known as the Fed Cup, have been thrown into doubt this season after the termination of a contract. Reuters News Agency has reported that Budapest told the ITF they can no longer stage the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the various variants which pose a risk. It is understood that a letter detailing their decision was sent on April 22nd.
Back in February both the ITF and HTA said they were committed to staging the event later on in the year at some stage. A total of 12 teams has qualified for the event which involves more than 60 athletes, support teams, officials and event staff. It has already been postponed twice due to the pandemic.
“We have been working closely with the Hungarian Government and the Hungarian Tennis Association (HTA) to review all feasible options to reschedule this year’s Finals,” ITF Chief David Haggerty told Reuters.
“After working together in good faith for the past year, we were surprised and disappointed to be informed that the HTA no longer considers it possible to hold the event in Budapest.
“Given the timing, the ITF has been left with no other option than to end the hosting agreement with Hungary and explore an alternative solution.”
Finding an alternative solution will be easier said than done. Not only are the ITF on the lookout for a country who can stage a week-long event at such short notice, they are also still working on what date to schedule it which will not collide with the WTA Tour.
Also in their letter, the HTA reportedly said that they had wanted to look into the contract which was signed back in 2019. To ensure that the event which would have been financed by Hungarian tax payers would have ‘minimal losses.’
Despite the setback, Haggerty has vowed to stage the revamped competition when it is possible to do so. In 2019 it was announced that the competition would be changed to a ‘world cup of tennis’ format. Similar to that of the Davis Cup, which has been transformed following a substantial investment by Kosmos. Teams will not compete for US$18 million, with US$12 million going to players and US$6 million to national associations.
“The ITF will do everything in its power — for the sport, the players, nations, and the fans — to ensure this landmark competition in tennis and women’s sports will be held as soon as it is reasonably practicable,” Haggerty said.
France, Russia, Hungary, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, the United States, Spain, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland are the teams set to play in the Finals.
Novak Djokovic Rates His Chances Of Winning French Open Following Loss To Nadal
Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic win their sixth title this season in Rome
Rafael Nadal Ousts Djokovic To Win Record 10th Italian Open Title
Iga Swiatek double bagels Karolina Pliskova to win Rome
Roger Federer Addresses Retirement Speculation, Concerns Over Tokyo Olympics
Daria Kasatkina Opens Up About Her Sexuality
(EXCLUSIVE) Q&A With Daria Abramowicz – The Psychologist Behind Iga Switek’s Historic French Open Run
Benoit Paire Excluded From Olympics For ‘Deeply Inappropriate Behaviour’
Novak Djokovic Sheds Light On Andy Murray’s Current Form After Rome Practice Session
Rafael Nadal Disputes Tsitsipas’ Claim He Hates Losing More Than Anybody Else
Steve Flink: “Jannik Sinner Will Be a Top 10 Player by the US Open”
(VIDEO) Miami Open Final Preview: Jannik Sinner Is The Favourite But Don’t Underestimate Hurkacz
Steve Flink: “Naomi Osaka Will Win At Least A Dozen Slams”
Steve Flink: “Djokovic and Nadal will end up with more Slams than Federer”
Steve Flink: “Why would Djokovic fake an injury when he’s two sets up?”
ATP14 hours ago
Andy Murray Skips French Open To Focus On The Grass
Latest news2 days ago
Rafael Nadal moves into Rome semifinal after straight-set win over Alexander Zverev
ATP3 days ago
French Open Chief: Roger Federer Would have Won Multiple French Open Titles If It Wasn’t For Nadal
Hot Topics3 days ago
Novak Djokovic Gives His Verdict On Use Of Electronic Line Calling On The Clay
Hot Topics12 hours ago
Roger Federer Addresses Retirement Speculation, Concerns Over Tokyo Olympics
Focus2 days ago
Coco Gauff reaches Rome Semi-Finals after Barty retires
Focus1 day ago
Nadal cruises past Opelka to reach 12th final in Rome
Focus1 day ago
Iga Swiatek upsets Svitolina to reach semis in Rome