Germany lived up to their expectations, claiming victory Spain, bidding for a fifth Hopman Cup titles, with wins in both singles rubbers. Alexander Zverev sealed the result when he overcame David Ferrer 6-4 4-6 7-6(0) in a high-quality match.
Previously, Angelique Kerber had extended her perfect Hopman Cup record as she beat Garbine Muguruza 6-2 3-6 6-3, ending a five-match losing streak to the Spaniard. Zverev and Kerber completed the 3-0 win with a 4-2 4-3(5-3) victory in the mixed doubles rubber.
“You know that you have to play good tennis. I was just trying to have a good match, try to enjoy the first match of the year for me,” said Kerber, the Hopman Cup official site reported. “It’s always tough if you play against another Grand Slam champion so that’s why I’m really happy with how I played today.” The Wimbledon champion had 31 winners to 29 from Muguruza, and two less unforced errors (with 37), that helped her to dominate the contest at stages.
The German used her lefty crosscourt forehand to force the opponent out of position off the backhand side and prevented her from stepping inside the baseline shortly in the rally. Effective and powerful in return, she tried not to give angles to Muguruza, who recurred to usual schemes and risky flat backhands not to lose ground.
Kerber managed to maintain low trajectories and bounces, particularly against the Spaniard's forehand although Muguruza quite regularly managed to hit early and go for a down the line acceleration to turn the tables and move to the net.
However, in the key moments, she didn't look enough assured to establish her position and seal the volley. applied her usual pressure forcing Muguruza to save three break points before she held in her first service game.
Kerber then had to fight off a break point of her own in the next game, starting a five-game winning streak that led her to gain the edge in 41 minutes. Muguruza hit back with the first six points of the second set as the battle became more level.
Unforced errors grew for Kerber and Muguruza broke in the eighth game to move clear and served it out to level. The Spaniard, who won the first of her six career titles in Hobart in 2014, identified general goals for 2019 before the match.
“Just work hard, try to be in finals, try to hold trophies – you know, that kind of stuff,” she said, underlining the good memories she has from the Australian swing. Memories didn't help to maintain the lead, though, as Kerber regained her focus breaking to move 3-1 ahead and refusing to give ground from there.
Ferrer pushed the rising star Zverev, who raised his level when it mattered the most during their clash. The world No.4 broke in the fifth game of a hard-fought opening set and held serve from there, closing it in just under 50 minutes with 16 winners along the way.
Zverev broke Ferrer in the first game of the second but gifted Ferrer the immediate break back and his desires to clinch the victory easily vanished from his hands. The German got more and more frustrated and even threw his racquet when Ferrer held at 5-4.
The Spaniard, launching the last season in his career, set up two brilliant passing shots to break and take the set in 48 minutes. Neither man could make an impact on the other’s serve in the third set until the 11th game when Zverev charged, but Ferrer held him off to get to a tie-break.
But Zverev, making his fourth consecutive appearance at Hopman Cup found his best when it counted most, reeling off a string of winners to take it out 7-0 and seal his fourth successive win over Ferrer extending to 4-2 his head to head record.
Beaten in last year's final against the Swiss Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic, Kerber and Zverev could bring Germany to win its first Hopman Cup title since 1995, when Anke Huber and Becker beat Ukrainians Andrei Medvedev and Natalia Medvedeva.
GERMANY D SPAIN
Angelique Kerber (GER) d Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-2 3-6 6-3
Alexander Zverev (GER) d David Ferrer (ESP) 6-4 4-6 7-6(0)
Kerber/Zverev (GER) d. Ferrer/Muguruza (ESP) 4-2 4-3(5-3)