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Federer v Zverev: A No.1 encounter

4 January 2017, by Hopman Cup

One is a record-breaking world No.1, the other a former junior No.1 and widely regarded as the best-credentialled man among his highly talented group.

A current great meets a future one as Roger Federer takes on Alexander Zverev in the Switzerland v Germany tie at Mastercard Hopman Cup 2017.

Federer was at his stylish best as he defeated Dan Evans 6-3 6-4 in his opening match at Perth Arena, the Swiss pleasantly surprised with form after a six-month absence due to injury.

Equally significant was the support he received from the highest-ever crowd ever to attend a tennis match in the Western Australia capital.

Receiving a standing on returning to court after a six-month absence due to injury, the Swiss was reminded of how much he’d missed the sport.

“I was actually quite emotional, I must tell you, like when I walked in I was like ‘oh my God, this was better than I thought it was going to be’,” said Federer.

“It felt good putting the match shirt back on and going out there and serving first, or trying to serve it out at the end.

“These are the moments I’ve missed the most, even though those are the ones that make you nervous.

“That’s why you play tennis, and I thought actually for a first round match it was great, because expectations are obviously quite low.”

His next test against Zverev is a mouthwatering clash, with the young German coming off a breakout 2016. In claiming his first title in St Petersburg, he ended Stan Wawrinka’s eleven match winning streak in finals. The 19-year-old also broke inside the top 20 for the first time last year.

The two players have met twice before, both in 2016, splitting the matches at one apiece. Federer claimed the first meeting in Rome before Zverev upset him in the Halle semifinals on grass – an event Federer has won eight times in the past.

Not surprisingly, Federer pointed to Zverev as one to watch when asked who he considers as the best among the next generation, naming that Halle encounter as an important marker.

“I was very impressed with how he played because I’d played a few weeks earlier in Rome on clay and he was not that impressive,” said Federer.

“And then all of a sudden I played him like month and a half later, the second time around that we play and I thought he was very good.”

Andrea Petkovic and Belinda Bencic will contest another blockbuster in the women’s singles. Both have been inside the top 10 and have immense capabilities to compete at the top echelon in the game.

Each woman emerged out of their opening ties at Mastercard Hopman Cup 2017 with wins, Petkovic demolishing Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-1 and Bencic fending off a strong fight from Heather Watson to win 7-5 3-6 6-2.

Like Federer and Zverev, the two have met twice and both encounters were in 2016. Bencic won both meetings, at the Fed Cup and US Open, in straight sets, adding to confidence heading into the rubber.

The FAST4 mixed doubles will also be eagerly watched. The Swiss pair will enter with more pleasing momentum; they won their first mixed doubles against Great Britain 4-0 4-1, while the Germans lost to the French 4-2 4-1.

Should Federer and Bencic emerge with a victory for Switzerland, they’ll be extremely well placed heading into the third tie against France and could end Germany’s hopes at an event they’ve claimed on two previous occasions.

There is much on the line as some of the most keenly-wathced competitors take to the court at Perth Arena.