Perth - Roger
Federer’s comeback from injury struck its first hurdle on Wednesday
when he was beaten by teenager Alexander Zverev at the mixed teams
Hopman Cup in Perth.
In one of the highest quality singles matches ever seen in the
29-year history of the event, Federer showed plenty of the class which
has won him a record 17 Grand Slams, but couldn’t quite hold off the
bold 19-year-old German.
He was left to rue his failure to serve out the first set when
leading 5-3 as Zverev took a match ultimately decided by three
tie-breakers, 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4) in two hours and 30
In the end, two booming first serves from Zverev, the first teenager
to make the top 20 since Novak Djokovic in 2006, closed out the match in
front of a record Perth tennis crowd of 13 785.
It was Zverev’s second straight win over the Swiss champ, having
beaten him in Germany last June, and the result also mirrored that of an
unofficial match on the practice court on New Year’s Eve.
Federer was upbeat despite his defeat to a player he believes will be a star for the next decade.
“It was good to play for two and a half hours,” he said.
“Sasha (Zverev) can serve big and showed what he can do, but I was happy how I hung around and I had some really good moments.
“As long as I am injury free and feeling good.”
It was only the 35-year-old's second match since a six-month layoff
due to knee and back injuries following his win over England’s Dan Evans
But Federer -- who is out of the top 10 for the first time since late
2002 -- said he was on the right track for the upcoming Australian
“I am very happy, I have played five good sets so far,” he said.
“I am very pleased, practice has gone great, the matches have been a lot of fun and I am playing good tennis.”
Federer lamented his inability to serve out the first set and a subsequent poor tie-breaker.
The veteran made a shaky start to the tie-breaker with
uncharacteristic successive double faults, and the teenager pounced on
the opportunity to claim the first set.
The second set saw both players holding serve easily, with Federer
barely challenged on serve until Zverev threatened in the 12th game,
when leading 6-5.
At 30-all, Zverev lobbed over Federer at the net and had the ball
dropped in instead of just floating long it would have been match point.
The pair went to another tie-breaker and this time it was Federer
that took the honours to level the match and set up a thrilling final