Angelique Kerber has maintained a perfect singles record in Perth with a 6-4 7-6(6) win over Belinda Bencic that sees the Mastercard Hopman Cup final come down to a live mixed doubles rubber for the second year running.
The world No.2 German took one hour and 29 minutes minutes to record victory, withstanding a second-set challenge from her determined Swiss opponent.
Kerber asserted herself early as she gained a first service break in the opening game of the encounter, quickly establishing a 3-0 lead as she consolidated and gained another break.
Bencic gained one of those breaks back in the fourth game but with the German at her most efficient, she maintained composure to claim the first set in 36 minutes.
The second set initially followed a similar pattern, with Bencic broken in the opening game and unable to stage an immediate recovery.
But as Kerber twice served for the match, the Swiss was twice able to stage a comeback.
The match was eventually decided in a tense second-set tiebreak, Kerber securing it with a forehand winner on her third match point.
“It’s always tough to play against Belinda,” said the world No.2 Kerber.
“You always have to win the last point and it’s not so easy because she’s fighting to the last one.”
Showing the benefit of her experience, the three-time Grand Slam champion maintained composure even amid the pressure of keeping her nation’s hopes alive in the final.
“I was trying just to play point by point and trying to not think too much ahead. Just going for it,” said Kerber.
“I’m happy that I won the first point (for Germany) and now its mixed time.”
Kerber enters that battle with the confidence of never having lost a singles match in the four she’s contested in two Perth appearances.
“I really love to play here and to have four really good matches that gives me, for sure, a lot of confidence going now to Sydney and then for the Australian Open,” said the 30-year-old.
“The goal was to have a lot of matches.”
And now there’s another important one as Germany challenges Switzerland set on claiming a third Mastercard Hopman Cup.