PERTH: Roger Federer made an almost flawless start to his Australian Open preparation with a superb straight-sets win over Cameron Norrie as defending champions Switzerland beat Britain in the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth Sunday.
Federer, who has won the past two Australian Opens off opening his season in Perth, made an early statement in dismantling Norrie 6-1, 6-1 in under an hour in the men’s singles, before Belinda Bencic secured the tie for the Swiss with a 6-2, 7-6 (7/0) win over Katie Boulter.
The Swiss won the mixed doubles to complete a clean sweep of the tie.
The 91st-ranked Norrie was coming off an impressive win over world number 15 Stefanos Tsitsipas the previous day, but had no answer to the brilliance of the Swiss maestro, ranked third in the world.
Two breaks of the serve in each set were enough for the 20-time Grand Slam winner to win 6-1, 6-1 in just 57 minutes, just over two weeks out from the year’s first Grand Slam.
Federer said he’d been in good touch in practice and was pleased to see that form carry through to his first official outing of the new season.
“It was very good, I came out of the blocks quick,” he said.
“I wasn’t missing my rhythm and it was perfect conditions, and I was happy with all aspects of my game.
“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, when he teamed with Bencic to win the title.
The four singles matches in Perth were part of a 21-match winning streak to start the year, including a second successive Australian Open title in Melbourne.
Germany’s stars shine
Earlier in the day, Germany’s star duo Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev also made encouraging starts to the new season.
The top 10 pair, beaten in the Hopman final by Federer and Bencic in January, were too good in their singles matches against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza and David Ferrer.
World number two Kerber edged past the 18th-ranked Muguruza in three sets to open the tie, while a misfiring Zverev was given a scare by the veteran Ferrer before also winning in three.
In the dead mixed doubles rubber, the Germans made it a clean sweep with a straight sets win.
Kerber won all four of her singles matches without dropping a set in Perth at the start of the year, as part of a 14-match winning streak that was only snapped in the Australian Open semi-final by Simona Halep.
That proved to be the start of a productive year for a resurgent Kerber, who won at Wimbledon and climbed back to number two in the world.
Hoping for a similar start to the new season under new coach Rainer Schuttler, Kerber took the first set against Muguruza comfortably in the battle of the two former world number ones.
However the Spaniard wasn’t going to let her own five-match winning run against the German go easily, and took the second set.
A break of serve in the fourth game of the third set was enough to ensure Kerber maintained her perfect record in Perth, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Zverev started well against Ferrer and cruised through the first set, but then grew increasingly frustrated with his own game as the determined Spaniard fought back, breaking the German’s serve with a sublime forehand passing shot in the 10th game to claim the second set.
There was little between the pair in the third set until Zverev surged in the tiebreak to take the match 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/0).
Although Zverev is ranked fourth in the world and Ferrer 126th, the German said he expected nothing less from the Spaniard, who retired from Grand Slam tennis.
“He is the greatest fighter, maybe we have ever seen in tennis,” Zverev said.