Jan/19

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Roger vs Serena in Perth Hopman Cup


By Scoop Malinowski

This is is, the ultimate showdown of the two greatest tennis players of all time in a mixed doubles match USA vs Switzerland. Tiafoe with Serena, Bencic with Federer.

Serena is all business at the coin toss, her game face is on. Federer looks equally serious. There are no warm smiles to each other to acknowledge the incredible symmetry of what is about to happen. The two best players male and female to lock horns in a mixed match.

Tiafoe holds serve, 1-0 Serena.

Federer holds but Tiafoe makes a backhand pass winner when Fed serve and volleys. 1-1.

Serena beats Roger with her first two serves which he can’t return, the second one was a second serve wide. Tiafoe flashes a huge smile.

Bencic holds too. 2-2 from 40-30 with some clutch shots that earn a pat on the back from Roger. Bencic could have choked but showed she is up for this most challenging task. All the pressure is on her. Federer is playing brilliant with some sharp volley winners.

Federer breaks Tiafoe and then holds for 4-2 to take the set. This is real, serious tennis. Serena muffling her mouth when talking tactics. And groaning in pain when Fed makes poach volleys at net. It’s very very clear, both Serena and Roger want this win.

Second set. Tiafoe serves. Serena hits a volley winner by Roger at 40-30 to win the game. 1-0 Serena.

Roger serves. Bencic hits a nice backhand volley angle that Tiafoe digs up but Roger backhands the easy shot right into Tiafoe’s left arm, Tiafoe then overacts and falls to the ground as if shot. Fed issues a delayed “Sorry buddy.” Roger holds but he did double fault to Serena. 1-1.

So far it’s brilliant, dazzling, awesome, stunning tennis. Everyone is on point and up to the challenge and standards expected with the two best players in tennis history vying for bragging rights. Neither Fed or Serena will ever brag about this match in the future but it’s important nonetheless. Neither wants to lose.

Serena serves. She and Federer go head to head cross court, Fed is playing deuce side, for three shots each then Roger goes up the line and Tiafoe misses the volley. Bencic misses a forehand volley at 30-30 off a Serena forehand. The first choke? Bencic then misses the second serve return long. Serena up 2-1. Bencic puts her head down, now she has to serve.

This match is more interesting than most other ATP and WTA and even Grand Slam matches. The stakes are so unique. This will surely be the one and only time Roger and Serena ever meet on a court. James Blake said, “Serena is the most competitive person I have ever met, hands down.”

Bencic serves. Tiafoe then hits a volley winner off Fed’s right cheek at close range. Fed smiles, so so does everyone. Fed is okay and embraces Tiafoe with his hand on his neck. Good spirits. But this is a battle. Tiafoe hits a second serve right at Fed who puts away the volley. 15-all. Bencic nets a forehand. 15-30. But Tiafoe nets a return. 30-all. Then Bencic hits a forehand long and hangs her head. Break point but Tiafoe nets a backhand cross court in a rally with Bencic. Bencic aces Serena to win the game. Bencic rising to the occasion 2-2.

Tiafoe serves. Fed returns right at Serena at net who misses forehand volley long. Love 15. Bencic nets forehand return, 15-all. Bencic nets a backhand off a drop volley which earns her a pat on back from Roger, as if to say, it’s okay, I still believe in you. Then Serena misses a volley off a Bencic shot. 30-all. Fed misses a backhand off a second serve wide, says “Oh come on” in anguish. Then Serena misses a volley and screams, it went wide. Deciding point to Roger but Bencic misses a volley way long from a Tiafoe attack. 3-2 Serena.

Roger to serve. Serena lunges but can’t control the return, way wide. Tiafoe lunges and can barely touch the serve. Serena lunges and misses her return way long. Tiafoe nets a first shot after Fed volleys. Easy hold for Roger, 3-3.

Serena holds her shoulder as if there’s discomfort. Creating her excuse?

14,604 in a attendance, a single session record.

Tiebreak. Bencic serves at 1-2 down but Tiafoe nets a backhand in a rally. 2-2. Serena slam at net for 3-2 Serena. Fed poaches and hits another volley winner. 3-3 with Roger to get 3 service points. Serena nets return. 4-3 Roger. match point, Fed serve and volley and Tiafoe nets a backhand. Fed raises his arms like a champion, half serious half relieved. Then embraces Bencic, both steal glances at Serena before the handshake.

Todd Woodbridge says BB rose to the occasion after the tough singles, “Roger motivated me in the locker room.” Roger: “I thought it was really entertaining, you guys (crowd) made it really electric.”

Woodbridge asks Serena to come over for the special occasion to talk with Roger. Serena, “It was a great experience, kind of sad it’s over, we were just warming up. It was so fun. This is super cool that we did this at a pinnacle point of our careers. It was really fun.”

RF: “I was nervous returning, because you just don’t know. I heard so much about it… Great champion you see how determined and focused she is and I love that about her.”

SW: “The guy is great, the greatest of all time to be honest, on and off the court. I think his serve is super underestimated. You can’t read it. I watched him all the time, I never knew how amazing it was.”

What a special moment in history this match was. Tennis magic created once again by Hopman Cup, one of the best events in tennis which will sadly be terminated as this is the final edition.

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62 comments

  • Hartt · January 4, 2019 at 2:34 am

    Genie Bouchard and Sofia Kenin won their SF match in Auckland, so it is on to the final.

    Milos’ GF was at his match today, but unfortunately he lost to Medvedev in 3 sets.

    I wish I could watch Bianca vs Venus, but it is 2:30 am and I must get to bed. The Aussie tourneys are killers as far as sleep goes.

    Catherine, I agree, it could be the end of the road for Maria.

  • catherine · January 4, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Might be my imagination – but Donna Vekic is starting to play like a junior Kerber. Torben Beltz is her coach of course 🙂

  • Hartt · January 4, 2019 at 5:59 am

    Who needs sleep? I ended up watching Bianca Andreescu vs Venus, and am glad I did. After beating Wozniacki yesterday, Bianca won against Venus in the Auckland QF – 6-7, 6-1, 6-3. In the decider Bianca led 5-1 before Venus made a bit of a comeback.

    Bianca is a very aggressive player, making a lot of winners and a lot of UFEs. She is an excellent competitor, who fights hard and rebounds quickly if she has a poor point or a poor game.

    Bianca is not afraid of the net, and can make lobs and drop shots. It is refreshing to watch a player with her variety.

    An ongoing back problem hindered her last season, but she is capable of playing terrific tennis. At just 18 years old (born in June), she is now at her career high, No. 114 in the live rankings.

    She also charmed the crowd, and I imagine she has many new fans who will root for her to win the title.

  • catherine · January 4, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Hartt – hope you are having a sleep now. I’ll check the highlights on Youtube. Bianca sounds very promising. Just hope the back problem isn’t chronic.

    The curse of Vogue stayed its hand in Perth and Kerber bt Barty SS. Good confident win. She leads Ashleigh 3-2 H2H.

  • Hartt · January 4, 2019 at 6:42 am

    Catherine, I am wide awake now, so am sort of watching Tsonga vs de Minaur.

    I have been big on Bianca for a couple years now, so it was great to see her doing so well in Auckland.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 4, 2019 at 9:32 am

    hartt, Bouchard is back, both of her losses this new season were with a match point (Hawaii vs Mertens) so she is competing well, this will help her close out the next one.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 4, 2019 at 9:34 am

    Sabalenka beat down of Maria who showed two injuries already in the season. Or were they phony excuses to protect her ego?

  • catherine · January 4, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Maria is like a shadow on the court these days. She seems somehow not to be there as a person. Aryna is a better version of Sharapova. She’s stolen her essence.

  • catherine · January 4, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    In Perth, Lendl’s reaction to the slightly farcical mixed doubles – a great big YAWN, and then embarrassed glance around. No doubt thinking ahead about how to prepare Sascha seriously for the final Final tomorrow.

  • Hartt · January 4, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    RBA just beat Novak in 3 sets in Doha. So maybe Novak won’t win everything in sight this season after all.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 4, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Interesting that Uncle Toni said about a month ago that Djokovic will not dominate this year. How on earth he could possibly know that is beyond me.

  • catherine · January 5, 2019 at 2:58 am

    Hartt – you’ll be thrilled that Bianca is in the Auckland final. She could win, I’ve a feeling Julia is not at her best and may not know much about Bianca. Don’t think she’s ever played her as B is a lot younger.

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