Federer leads Swiss to victory

Federer leads Swiss to victory

Roger Federer hits a return against Cameron Norrie in the Hopman Cup. AFP

World number three Roger Federer outplayed Briton Cameron Norrie 6-1, 6-1 to secure a winning start for defending champions Switzerland at the Hopman Cup on Sunday.

Gearing up for his Australian Open title defence, Federer overcame three break points in his opening service game before rediscovering his rhythm to race out to a 5-0 lead.

With 18 winners and four aces, Federer wrapped up the opening set in 31 minutes.

Norrie, who had defeated Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets on Saturday, struggled to match Federer’s crisp stroke-making as the Swiss gave his team a 1-0 lead.

Federer’s playing partner Belinda Bencic beat Katie Boulter 6-2, 7-6(0) in the women’s contest to clinch Switzerland’s victory in the round-robin stage.

The 37-year-old Federer has won the last two Australian Open titles after taking part in the mixed-teams tournament in Perth.

“This was a great start but obviously a long way to go here and in Melbourne,” Federer said.

“It’s nice that I’m feeling as good as I am and played a wonderful match against Cameron. The footwork, the offensive play, serve, return, it was all there, so I think it was a great match for me.”

The 37-year-old Federer was unbeaten in singles at the previous Hopman Cup earlier this year.

Last year’s runners-up Germany made a winning return when Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber recorded hard-fought victories in their singles matches. In the dead mixed doubles rubber, the Germans made it a clean sweep with a straight sets 4-2, 4-3 (5/3) win.

Coming off a title win at the season-ending ATP Finals in London, Zverev countered his 45 unforced errors with 39 winners and eight aces to beat Spanish veteran David Ferrer 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(0).

After the match, Zverev paid tribute to former world number three Ferrer, who will retire from the sport next year.

“All the credit is (to) David, coming back from a set down and break down,” Zverev said.

“He is the greatest fighter, maybe, that we have ever seen in tennis. What he has done in tennis over the past 15 or 20 years has been absolutely amazing.”

Kerber defeated Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to snap a five-match losing streak against the two-time Grand Slam winner.

 Kerber conceded Muguruza had proven a historically difficult opponent and she was pleased to begin her Australian Open preparation with a win.

“The first match you never know how you will feel on court,” she said.

“I was trying to find the rhythm and I am very happy about how I played.

“I was trying not to think about the head to head.”

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