PERTH • Serena Williams completed a sweep of her singles matches at the mixed-team Hopman Cup yesterday as she readies a bid to join Margaret Court on 24 Grand Slam singles titles at the Australian Open.
She was made to work a little harder than expected by young Briton Katie Boulter in the United States' final Group B tie but prevailed in straight sets to make it three wins from as many outings.
But, in what could be her last Cup, it was not enough for the two-time winner and the 20-year-old Frances Tiafoe. They were eliminated after their opening two losses while defending champions Switzerland have booked their place in tomorrow's final.
The 37-year-old, watched by her daughter Alexis Olympia born in late 2017, beat the 97th-ranked Boulter 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) following wins over former top 10 player Belinda Bencic and Greece's Maria Sakkari earlier in the week.
"It was perfect, it's just like this in Melbourne," the 16th-ranked Williams said. "It's the exact same sun and it gives me so many problems. After you serve, you are blind for the next two points."
She has not won a Slam since the Australian Open in 2017 and was beaten last year in the finals of Wimbledon and US Open, where she fired a furious tirade at the umpire during her loss to Naomi Osaka.
In Perth, she dropped just one set in her singles matches although, at different times, she seemed to be troubled by a right shoulder problem and had both ankles strapped.
Her form was patchy across the matches, but she said the round-robin format was ideal preparation.
In the men's singles, the struggling Tiafoe led 5-3 in the first set, but won just one more game in losing 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 to Cameron Norrie. The Britons claimed the tie with victory in the Fast4 mixed doubles 3-4 (2-5), 4-3 (5-4), 4-1.
At the Brisbane International, world No. 5 Naomi Osaka came from behind to beat Anastasija Sevastova 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the season-opening event.
The 21-year-old Japanese has enormous power but said she was tested by the Latvian, who defeated her twice last year and favours angles and deception over brute force.
Osaka next plays Lesia Tsurenko and, with defending champion Elina Svitolina ousted on Wednesday, is now the firm title favourite.
France v Spain: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 9.45am Australia v Germany: 5.15pm