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Federer beats Tsitsipas to return Switzerland to Hopman Cup final

Hannah Wilks in News 3 Jan 2019
  • Roger Federer defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas to put Switzerland in the Hopman Cup final
  • Federer and Bencic won the Hopman Cup title in 2018
  • Federer remains unbeaten in singles but Greece won the tie overall
Roger Federer after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Hopman Cup (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Roger Federer secured Switzerland's place in the Hopman Cup final by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Defending champions Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic reached the final of the 2019 Hopman Cup despite a 1-2 defeat to Greece in their final round-robin tie. 

Federer's straight-sets defeat of Stefanos Tsitsipas in their first meeting was the key victory that put Switzerland into the final, although Bencic lost to Maria Sakkari and Tsitsipas and Sakkari narrowly won the mixed doubles rubber to give Greece an overall win in the tie.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 03: Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece embrace after defeating Belinda Bencic and Roger Federer of Switzerland in the mixed doubles match during day six of the 2019 Hopman Cup at Perth Arena on January 03, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)
Federer and Bencic defeated Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev in the final in 2018 and could well face the same German pairing in Saturday's final in 2019, with Germany 2-0 so far and headed for a climactic clash with Australia's Ashleigh Barty and Matthew Ebden - also 2-0 so far - in the final tie of the group stages on Friday.

For the second year in a row, Federer managed to stay unbeaten in singles at the Hopman Cup. After beating Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 6-1, 6-1 and Frances Tiafoe of the USA 6-4, 6-1, Tsitsipas should have posed a tougher challenge - and so it proved.

The 20-year-old Greek player shot up the rankings from outside the top 90 to inside the top 20 in 2018, making a name for himself with his runs to the finals of the Barcelona Open and the Canada Masters before winning his first ATP World Tour title in Stockholm in October and collecting six wins over top-10 players, including Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic, during the season.

Anticipation was high therefore for a first meeting between the 37-year-old Federer and Tsitsipas, one of the leading lights of the next generation, even if it was taking place at an exhibition event rather than an official ATP World Tour tournament. 

Because of its proximity to the Australian Open - Federer for one is playing it as his only warm-up event for the first Grand Slam of the year - Hopman Cup matches tend to be taken a bit more seriously than matches at other exhibition events, and this one was hotly contested from start to finish. Neither man could break serve, and Federer trailed 1-4 in the first set tie-break before coming back to lead 7-6(5) as Tsitsipas double-faulted. 

Federer had three break points in the second set but couldn't convert and had to, once more, get the job done in a tie-break for a 7-6(5), 7-6(4) victory.

'He could be my son,' Federer joked afterwards of Tsitsipas, 17 years his junior.

'He did a nice job. I think we both played well without too many mistakes. I learned about his game. From my game, I didn’t learn anything.

'For me, it’s about maintaining a good level of play. I’m happy where my game is at. And I was impressed with what I saw from Stefan.'

Tsitsipas relished the experience despite the defeat.

'It was unbelievable. I’ve been dreaming of this moment for a very long time,' he said.

'It’s the best feeling on earth, even though I lost. There’s a lot of things I can learn from that match. It was a really good lesson today.'

Federer's victory over Tsitsipas secured Switzerland's place in the final and eliminated Greece from contention. But there was plenty of comfort for Tsitsipas and his partner Sakkari.

Sakkari secured a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Bencic to send the tie to a live mixed doubles rubber, and then hit a spectacular winning return off Federer's first serve on match point to claim the win - much to Tsitsipas's delight.

'I think I made two returns in the whole match when Roger was serving and I think the second one was the last point, and the most important, so I'm extremely happy I got to return two of his serves,' Sakkari said, laughing.

Earlier in the day, Great Britain secured a 2-1 defeat over the USA, with Cameron Norrie defeating Frances Tiafoe 7-6(4), 6-0 and teaming up with Katie Boulter to win the mixed doubles in three sets. 

Serena Williams succeeded in remaining unbeaten in singles, however, beating Boulter 6-1, 7-6(2) to add to victories over Bencic and Sakkari.

Williams was once again cheered on by her husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia.

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Federer beats Tsitsipas to return Switzerland to Hopman Cup final

Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic will represent Switzerland in the Hopman Cup final for the second straight year after Federer beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, although Greece still beat Switzerland 2-1

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