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Kerber: perfect in Perth

6 January 2018, by Hopman Cup

Any disappointment at failing to secure a Hopman Cup title for Germany in the final mixed doubles could be quickly erased for Angelique Kerber.

In four singles matches the German was unbeaten at Perth Arena, her Hopman Cup debut having provided perfect preparation ahead of the Australian Open.

“I won all four matches and that gives me a lot of confidence for the next matches, for Sydney and for Melbourne,” said the German, a winner this week over Elise Mertens, Eugenie Bouchard, Daria Gavrilova and Belinda Bencic in the final.

“That was the plan to have a lot of matches before going into the Grand Slam and I just looking forward to taking that energy and how I played here to the next tournaments.”

The final was the most impressive performance from the 29-year-old, who took just an hour to dispatch the in-form Swiss 6-4 6-1. The stunning display under pressure saw her meant the Mastercard Hopman Cup 2018 final came down to the Fast4 doubles, where Kerber was delighted to compete for the first time against Roger Federer.

“It’s amazing, I’m really feeling good here,” she said. “Roger was always my idol growing up and now I’m playing against him, so it’s very exciting in a deciding match.”

That she created the opportunity was also a turning point, marking a change-of-fortunes against Bencic.

The Swiss enjoyed a 3-0 head-to-head record against the former No.1, including their last meeting, a straight sets triumph on Fed Cup duty in 2016. The 20-year-old was also boosted by an 18-match singles winning streak.

But Kerber has embraced a fresh start under new coach Wim Fissette and had dominated all three round robin singles matches at Perth Arena without dropping a set.

In the final, Bencic won the coin toss and elected to receive. Blistering returns justified that decision as the former world No.7 claimed an instant break.

However, Kerber has struck the ball with vigour on debut at Hopman Cup and restored parity with a fizzing backhand cross court winner.

Bencic looked to have curled a perfect lob serving at 4-5, but Kerber backpedalled and launched into the air to cut a perfectly executed backhand smash.

That was the catalyst to break and land the opener, with the German’s form flourishing in the second set.

At 2-1, the 29-year-old dictated a gruelling rally and stole a pivotal advantage with a forehand arrowed into the corner.

Bencic continued to press for an opening, but Kerber was ruthless and combined accurate serving with menacing groundstrokes to breaks the Swiss’ winning run to level the tie with ease.

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The perfect record adds to a bond for Australia, where Kerber claimed the first of two Grand Slams – the Australian Open and US Open in 2016 – that would eventually secure the world No.1 ranking.
With the perfect Perth record providing hope that the popular German can return to those heights this summer, the German departs Western Australia with renewed positivity.
“First of all, I’ve got to think about Sydney and then I will think about Melbourne but of course I love Australia,” she smiled.
“I love coming back. I have great memories.”
Perth only adds to the feel-good factor, ensuring Kerber’s first visit almost certainly won’t be her last one.
“I love to coming back,” she smiled. “And hopefully I will come back next year with Sascha.”