Belinda Bencic staved off a second-set challenge from a determined Katie Boulter to secure Switzerland’s win over Great Britain at Mastercard Hopman Cup 2019.
The 21-year-old prevailed 6-2 7-6(0) over the Brit in an hour and 43 minutes, her gritty win providing a positive sign that the Swiss team’s title defence is on track.
Earlier, Roger Federer defeated Cameron Norrie 6-1 6-1 in less than an hour.
It was a tougher progression for Bencic, the more dominant player in the 39-minute first-set but becoming increasingly frustrated as Boulter lifted her level in the second.
Clearly comfortable before a high-energy crowd at RAC Arena – with 13,232 fans attending on Sunday night – Boulter dropped served in the fifth game but immediately bounced back with a service break of her own.
The Brit subsequently saved three break points in the ninth game but as the match progressed to a second-set tiebreak, Bencic found her rhythm on the court that delivered the 2018 title alongside Federer. Boulter failed to win another point as Bencic secured Switzerland’s first tie of the 2019 event.
“It’s always great to be back in Perth and yeah of course, playing today I was little bit nervous as always,” said Bencic. “But I’m so happy to be back and yeah it just feels very nice (to get the victory).”
The positive turn suggested that the top-10 ranking Bencic achieved as an 18-year-old in 2016 is once again within reach for the Swiss, who has since experienced numerous injury challenges.
“I’m just really happy I’m back being healthy,” said Bencic, currently the world No.37.
“I mean, it’s tough you know, to be back at this level, but I’m taking it one step at a time and just improving my ranking.”
The talented young player faces her next test against Serena Williams when Switzerland meets US on Wednesday evening. Bencic memorably upset the prolific champion en route to winning the 2015 Toronto title.
Perhaps adding confidence for that high-profile encounter, Bencic and Federer made it a clean sweep for Switzerland as they defeated Boulter and Norrie 4-3(4) 4-1 in the mixed doubles.