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Hopman Cup Day 3 live streaming, preview and tips: Serena Williams returns to Perth as USA face Greece on New Year's Eve

Andrew Hendrie in News 29 Dec 2018
  • USA vs Greece is live from Perth at 10.00am local time on Monday (2.00am GMT)
  • Serena Williams meets Maria Sakkari
  • Frances Tiafoe faces Stefanos Tsitsipas
Serena Williams (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Serena Williams launches her Australian summer of tennis on Monday December 31 at the Hopman Cup as USA square off against Greece in Group B action in Perth.

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USA vs Greece, live from Perth Arena at 10.00am local time (2.00am GMT)

Serena Williams (USA) vs Maria Sakkari (GRE)

A champion at the Hopman Cup in 2003 and 2008 (and also a runner-up in 2014), Serena Williams prepares to play her first match down under since capturing the 2017 Australian Open title when she teams up with Frances Tiafoe to lead the United States into battle against the Greek team of Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas on New Year’s Eve.

With her sights set on chasing down Margaret Court and her all-time major singles record of 24 titles this season, Serena will be attempting to build on an extremely promising return to action in 2018, where she came agonisingly close to breaking the record less than a year after giving birth to her first child, losing in the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals to Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka respectively.

Fresh from a full off-season and considering the fact she hasn’t lost before the final in a Grand Slam since the 2016 U.S. Open, Serena has still got be counted among the very top favourites for the Australian Open crown in January. The 37-year-old has actually already unofficially begun her 2019 season, taking part in an exhibition contest with sister Venus at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi a few days ago, going down in a match tiebreak.

Maria Sakkari of Greece celebrates after her victory over Katie Boulter of Britain (Photo by TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Maria Sakkari has already experienced a taste of Hopman Cup action, but unfortunately it wasn’t a winning debut for Greece as they went down 2-1 to Great Britain on Saturday. Sakkari managed to force a live mixed doubles after avenging a Tianjin Open defeat from earlier this year to Katie Boulter, beating the 22-year-old 6-0 4-6 6-2, but she couldn’t get over the line with Tsitsipas in the doubles despite holding multiple match points, going down in a third set tiebreak 4-3 3-4 4-3 - and later revealing she didn’t know that under Hopman Cup rules that you don’t need to win by two points in a tiebreak and whoever makes it to five first wins.

"I thought we had one more point. After I saw them celebrating (I realised)," Sakkari said.

A runner-up in San Jose last season after beating Venus Williams, Sakkari is aiming to take her game to the next level in 2019 - and beating Serena, even in an exhibition, would be a significant launching pad. It’s certainly not out of the question - if you’re going to come up against Serena, there’s no better time than early in the season in a match that doesn’t count towards official records. You’ve got to label Serena the favourite, but don’t be surprised if it takes the American a while to brush aside the cobwebs, especially following a long flight from the Middle East just a couple of days ago.

Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)

Touted as a future major champion following his extraordinary breakout season in 2018 in which he won a maiden ATP title in Stockholm and finished runner-up at the Canada Masters and Barcelona Open to end the year in the top 15, Stefanos Tsitsipas suffered a slow start to his 2019 campaign on Saturday in Perth, dishing up a lacklustre performance to lose in straight sets to World No. 91 Cameron Norrie.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece grimaces during his defeat to Cameron Norrie (Photo by TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images)
The 20-year-old struggled in 27-degree heat (which isn’t warm at all relatively speaking), committing a truckload of unforced errors and visibly pulling up during extended baseline exchanges in a 6-7(8) 4-6 defeat. Tsitsipas was disappointed with his display after the match, saying he expected much better from himself after a long training block in Dubai during December.

"It was tough to adjust from the very beginning," Tsitsipas said.
"Cameron played really well, but I really felt uncomfortable, I don't know why. Probably because of the weather conditions. The heat here -- it's a bit different. It's tougher conditions than Dubai where I was preparing.
"I feel like I'm getting tired easily, which I'm not happy with because I've been working really hard in the off-season."

Tsitsipas will face another 20-year-old on Monday in the form of Frances Tiafoe. The American also put together a superb 2018 season, registering a 28-26 record as he captured a first ATP title in Delray Beach, along with finishing runner-up in Estoril, reaching the Round of 16 in Miami and the third round of Wimbledon, finishing the year at No. 39 in the world.

Tiafoe did however fall off towards the end of the season (which is normal for young players as they continue to come to grips with tour life), failing to win back-to-back matches since the beginning of August and failing to make it out of the group in the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, suffering a defeat to eventual champion Tsitsipas in the process. Tsitsipas also won their only other clash in Tokyo qualifying in 2017, but the Greek wasn’t at all impressive in his opening match on Saturday, and with Tiafoe fresh and raring to go, the American will fancy his chances of claiming the ‘upset’.

Mixed doubles: Serena Williams/Frances Tiafoe vs Maria Sakkari/Stefanos Tsitsipas

Sakkari and Tsitsipas have the advantage of having already played a mixed doubles match at the Hopman Cup (despite blowing four match points and somehow losing from 3-0 up in the deciding set), while they’ve also known each other since they were kids and are very familiar with each other’s games. Serena obviously has enjoyed immense success in the doubles arena alongside sister Venus, but Tiafoe wouldn’t have played much - if any - mixed doubles so far in his young career. These sorts of matches are always toss-ups, especially in the new fast4 format, but you’d expect Serena’s class and experience to give the Americans the slight edge.

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Hopman Cup Day 3 live streaming, preview and tips: Serena Williams returns to Perth as USA face Greece on New Year's Eve

Serena Williams launches her Australian summer of tennis on Monday December 31 at the Hopman Cup as USA square off against Greece in Group B action in Perth.

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