PERTH • Switzerland got their Hopman Cup defence off to a perfect start yesterday after winning their round-robin stage opener against Britain, with Roger Federer in fine form.
He outplayed Cameron Norrie 6-1, 6-1, while his playing partner and fellow Swiss Belinda Bencic beat Katie Boulter 6-2, 7-6 (7/0).
The world No. 3, who has gone on to lift the Australian Open for the past two seasons after starting in the mixed-teams tournament in Perth, has spent the off-season training hard ahead of the defence of his title, which starts on Jan 14.
The 37-year-old knows he will have to go to Melbourne Park in peak form given that top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Saturday with a 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 win over Kevin Anderson, has set overhauling Federer's mark of 20 majors as his "objective" .
The Serb currently has 14.
Federer was thrilled at having "played a wonderful match", saying: "This was a great start but obviously, a long way to go here and in Melbourne. It's nice that I'm feeling as good as I am."
With 18 winners and four aces, Federer wrapped up the opening set in 31 minutes as Norrie struggled to match his opponent's crisp stroke-making and the second set was little different.
Last year's runners-up Germany made a triumphant return when Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber recorded hard-fought victories in their singles matches.
Coming off a title win at the season-ending ATP Finals in London last month, Zverev countered his 45 unforced errors with 39 winners and eight aces to beat Spanish veteran David Ferrer 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/0).
After the match, the world No. 4 paid tribute to his 36-year-old opponent, who will retire from the sport next year.
"All the credit is (to) David, coming back from a set down and break down," Zverev said. "He is the greatest fighter, maybe, that we have ever seen in tennis.
"What he has done in tennis over the past 15 or 20 years has been absolutely amazing."
World No. 2 Kerber beat Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to snap a five-match losing streak against the two-time major winner.
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