Germany have taken their first step towards redeeming their loss in the final of last summer’s Mastercard Hopman Cup, beating Spain in their opening tie at RAC Arena.
The tournament favourites, who lost that last final to Switzerland, are keen to claim their country’s first win in the mixed teams’ event since Boris Becker and Anke Huber held the trophy aloft in 1995.
World No.4 Alexander Zverev ensured victory in their opening tie with a tough 6-4 4-6 7-6(0) win against veteran David Ferrer.
Zverev showed frustration at times, especially in the second set, but countered his 45 unforced errors with 39 winners and eight aces.
After the match he paid tribute to Ferrer, now ranked world No.126, who will retire during 2019.
“All the credit is David, coming back from a set down and break down,” he said of the former world No.3.
“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.”
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) December 30, 2018
Earlier, World No.2 Angelique Kerber also had to fight for her three-set win over Garbine Muguruza.
Kerber won 6-2 3-6 6-3, turning around a five-match losing streak to the dual Grand Slam champion.
After a shaky start for both players, Kerber took control and broke Muguruza’s serve twice to take the first set.
Muguruza jumped on Kerber’s loss of focus and her 16 unforced errors in the second set to level the match, but she was unable to carry any momentum into the third.
Kerber said she was happy with her first match of the summer and remaining unbeaten at the event in five singles matches in two appearances.
“The first match, you never know you will feel on court. I was just trying to play every single point; trying to find the rhythm,” she said.
“Of course, it is just the beginning and I am quite happy with how I played.
“There are a few matches to come here. So far I have won everything, so it is not so bad.”
Germany also claimed the mixed doubles, 4-2 4-3 (5-3).
Germany’s next tie is against France on Wednesday before they face Australia on Friday in what could be for a place in the final.