Hopman Cup: Serena victorious in Australian return

Published by AAP

Serena Williams in action during her Hopman Cup singles rubber against Maria Sakkari (Getty Images)
In her first outing in Australia for two years, Serena Williams records a straight-sets victory over Maria Sakkari at the Hopman Cup.

Serena Williams required some running repairs on her ankle as she powered to a 7-6(3) 6-2 win over Maria Sakkari at the Hopman Cup on Monday.

Williams looked sluggish early, and needed her left ankle re-strapped after winning the first set.

But the 23-time Grand Slam champion wasn’t hindered by the inconvenience, snaring two breaks in the second set to wrap up the match in one hour and 44 minutes.

Her win levelled the tie between the US and Greece at 1-1 after world No.15 Stefanos Tsitsipas beat American Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-7(3) 6-3.

The mixed doubles will decide the tie winner.

Although Williams committed a host of errors during the match, she was happy to come away with the win.

“It’s great to be back out in match day, and it’s great to be back out here,” said Williams, whose last appearance Down Under came when she won Australian Open 2017.

“I love playing in Australia. Some of my best memories are here.

“It was my first match back (today), she played unbelievable. Maria is super young and such a good player.

“I was making a lot of errors. I was like, ‘It’s ok, it’s your first match and you’ll get better’. I just kept trying to think that.”

Williams’ appearance in Perth is her first tournament since the US Open final, where she was handed a series of code violations in her loss to Naomi Osaka.

The relaxed setting of the Hopman Cup is the perfect place for Williams to ease her way back into competition mode ahead of the Australian Open.

Serena, who lost to her sister Venus in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi last week, will be back in action on Tuesday night when the US take on the Roger Federer-led Switzerland.

Tsitsipas was left searching for answers after losing to world No.91 Cameron Norrie in straight sets in his opening match on Saturday.

But the 20-year-old handled the hot conditions far better on Monday, moving freely throughout the match as the temperature soared past 31 degrees.

“I felt a bit uncomfortable in the first match I played. I couldn’t last long. I felt like I was out of breath,” Tsitsipas said.

“But today I felt really comfortable playing the rallies. My shots felt better. In general I felt much more confident, and more me.

“Frances told me he felt the exact same thing I felt in my first match. I told him it was probably because of jet lag and the heat combined.”

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