Perth - Roger Federer ended a memorable 2017 the way he started it
with a singles win at the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Saturday.
His straight-sets victory over Japan's Yuichi Sugita showed
Federer was sharp for his upcoming Australian Open title defence, capping off
an extraordinary year in which he claimed two Grand Slam titles and climbed
back to number two in world rankings.
It also gave Switzerland the lead in their Group B tie
against the Japanese, before Belinda Bencic sealed the tie for the Swiss with a
straight-sets win over Naomi Osaka.
Federer started his 2017 campaign in Perth and given the
success which followed, the 36-year-old was keen to replicate his preparation
for Melbourne by returning to the Hopman Cup.
Speaking after his 6-4, 6-3 win over the 40th-ranked Sugita,
the Swiss star said he was entering the new season more confident in his game
than the last.
"I feel much more in a rhythm," he said.
"Last year, I was like I hope I'm going to be able to
hit my first serves, and I hope it's going to work out as much as it did in the
"I think all those question marks aren't really there
this time around, which is a nice thing.
"I think it was a great start."
While a number of his main rivals, including Novak Djokovic,
Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and Milos Raonic, have battled fitness
issues this year, Federer said his body was in perfect shape heading into 2018.
"I'm healthy and had a great off season," the
19-time Grand Slam champion said.
"The body's great, it couldn't be better, so I couldn't
Despite his age, Federer added he felt like he was still as
competitive as ever.
"I feel like the game has evolved again and I've made
some adjustments," he said.
"I am trying to hit through the backhand more and have
a bit more pop on the serve."
Federer only needed one break in each set to slip past
Sugita in just 66 minutes and while he looked a fraction rusty at times, he
also produced a number of classy strokes to delight a sell-out crowd and show
he would again be a force next year.
Bencic, ranked 98th in the world but continuing to rebuild
her career after wrist surgery this year, then edged her way past Osaka, ranked
30 places higher at 68, winning 7-5, 6-3 in 91 minutes.
In the mixed doubles the Swiss completed a clean sweep of
the tie with a 2-4, 4-1, 4-3 (5/1) win under the Fast4 format.
Earlier on the opening day of the tournament, the United
States pairing of CoCo Vandeweghe and Jack Sock triumphed over Russian duo
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Karen Khachanov 2-1 in their Group B tie.
The American pair were beaten in the previous Hopman Cup
final at the start of the year and world number 10 Vandeweghe kick-started
their bid to go one better with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Pavluchenkova.
Sock, ranked eighth in the world, then overcame a second-set
lapse to beat Khachanov in three sets, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
The Russians had a consolation victory in the mixed doubles
Scores from the Hopman Cup mixed teams tournament in Perth on Saturday:
Switzerland bt Japan 3-0
Men's singles: Roger Federer (SUI) bt Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 6-4, 6-3
Women's singles: Belinda Bencic (SUI) bt Naomi Osaka (JPN) 7-5, 6-3
Mixed doubles: Bencic/Federer (SUI) bt Osaka/Sugita 2-4, 4-1, 4-3 (5/1)
United States bt Russia 2-1
Women's singles: CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-3, 6-3
Men's singles: Jack Sock (USA) bt Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4, 1-6, 6-3
Mixed doubles: Pavlyuchenkova/Khachanov (RUS) bt Vandeweghe/Sock (USA) 3-4 (3/5), 4-1, 4-2