Switzerland retain Hopman Cup in sudden-death thriller

Published by Alex Sharp

Germany and Switzerland advanced through the field for a repeat of the 2018 Hopman Cup final.

Switzerland clinched back-to-back Hopman Cup titles with a symmetry-laden final victory over Germany in Perth.

Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic fended off Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber 2-1 at the RAC Arena in Perth to hold the trophy aloft once again in a repeat of the 2018 final.

A pulsating deciding doubles ensued, which required a tie-break to name the champions and the Swiss duo snatched away the title with the very last point in a dramatic 4-0 1-4 4-3(4) encounter.

The absorbing display of tennis followed a familiar pattern to the 2018 silverware showdown.

Federer chalked up an early advantage with victory over Next Gen leader Zverev, before Wimbledon champion Kerber navigated past a valiant effort from Bencic.

In the end it came down to one point in the captivating mixed doubles. The delivery was off Federer wielding his Wilson racket and Bencic swatted away the critical volley to cue the celebrations.

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“This has been an absolute blast. I think the people know what this place means to me,” said Federer, having become the first player in history to feature in three winning Hopman Cup teams.

“It’s emotional to play with you,” quipped the 20-time Grand Slam champion towards his team-mate. “We have such a good time, it’s been wonderful playing together the past three years and I hope it’s not the last time.”

World No.54 Bencic gave an entertaining victory speech, revealing her joy at playing in front of a packed Perth crowd.

“I love playing Hopman Cup, I’d love to play in this every week,” declared the 21-year-old. “I know you all come because of Roger and Serena (Williams) this year too, but I know you have to watch me too, so I’m really happy for that.”

Federer, who first won the Hopman Cup back in 2001 partnering Martina Hingis, gave Switzerland a 1-0 lead in the tie with some irresistible play.

The defending Australian Open champion struck 24 winners and succeeded in 25 of 33 attempts at the net to conjure up a majestic 6-4 6-2 win over world No.4 Zverev.

Kerber managed to quell a Bencic comeback to chalk 6-4 7-6(6) onto the scoreboard to send the final into a winner takes all doubles.

It was simply sensational, with all-court rallies, last-ditch retrieval and mesmerising shot-making. The crowd was creating a cacophony of noise with the players responding with a scintillating standard.

Having salvaged their title bid, Germany surrendered Championship point at 4-3 in the third set tie-break, making the runners up speech a pretty tricky task for Zverev.

“We’re sick of you guys. Especially you (Roger). You’re thirty-whatever. Why? Just why?,” joked Zverev as Germany missed out on a first Hopman Cup triumph since 1995. “Why can’t we have one Hopman Cup?

“After we lost last year, we immediately decided to come back. We came so close, we were just one shot away,” added the world No.4.

“We really will remember it for the rest of our lives. It really was memorable and hopefully we can come back and maybe hold that trophy one day.”

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