PERTH, December 31, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)
In a battle of 20-year-old Next Gen stars, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece has begun to find his rhythm Down Under at the Mastercard Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. On Monday afternoon, the World No. 15 defeated No. 39 Frances Tiafoe of the United States, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3, that set the tempo for Greece’s 2-1 victory over the Americans.
Tsitsipas fired 14 aces and hit 39 winners in his first head-to-head match against Tiafoe that lasted two hours and 15 minutes and was played in temperatures that reached 30º Celsius.
Later, Tsitsipas teamed with Maria Sakkari to beat Tiafoe and Serena Williams in mixed doubles, 1-4, 4-1, 4-2, which clinched the tie for Greece, 2-1. The No. 16-ranked Williams earned the only point for the United States with a 7-6 (3), 6-2 win against No. 41 Sakkari.
After losing to No. 91 Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, 7-6 (8), 6-4, earlier in round-robin play, Tsitsipas said he felt “really comfortable” when playing rallies today. “My shots felt better. In general, I felt much more confident, and more me.”
Meanwhile, as Williams readies for the Australian Open that begins in two weeks, the 23-time Grand Slam champion hit 13 aces and delivered 29 winners against Sakkari during her straight-set win that she secured in one hour and 44 minutes. Williams is making her fifth appearance in the Hopman Cup, named in honor of one of Australia’s greatest players and coaches, Harry Hopman.
After the tie, Williams said, “It’s great to be back out in match day, and it’s great to be back out here. 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.”
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) 31. Dezember 2018
Hopman Cup notes
Defending champion Switzerland (1-0), which defeated Great Britain 3-0 on Sunday in back of World No. 3 Roger Federer and No. 54 Belinda Bencic, will face the United States on Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. local time in the day’s only tie. Meanwhile, undefeated Germany (1-0), featuring World No. 4 Alexander Zverev and World No. 2 Angelique Kerber, resumes round-robin play against France on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. local time. Germany won its opening tie against Spain 3-0 on Sunday.
Day three results – Group B
Greece 3, United States 0
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) d Frances Tiafoe (USA), 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3
Serena Williams (USA) d Maria Sakkari (GRE), 7-6 (3), 6-2
Sakkari / Tsitsipas (GRE) d Williams / Tiafoe (USA), 1-4, 4-1, 4-2