Roger Federer ensured Switzerland would have the chance to defend their Hopman Cup title with a straight-sets win over Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas at the mixed teams tournament in Perth on Thursday.
The 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4) win by the 20-time Grand Slam champion in his men’s singles match gave the Swiss a 1-0 lead in their Group B encounter, but also meant they were guaranteed a spot in Saturday’s final despite eventually losing the tie.
In the women’s singles, Maria Sakkari levelled the tie with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Belinda Bencic, before the Greeks won the deciding mixed doubles in three sets.
Bencic and Federer beat the German pairing of Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev in last year’s decider, and there is a strong likelihood it will be the exact same pairing on Saturday, which would be a first for the tournament in what is expected to be its last year.
The 37-year-old Federer kept his unbeaten record this week intact against the 15th-ranked Tsitsipas, but there was little between the pair in both sets.
Federer found himself down 4-1 in the first set tie-break, but fought back and was handed a set point by a double fault for Tsitsipas, which the Swiss champion converted with an ace.
A delightful drop shot set up three match points in the second tie-break, and Federer took the second of those to close out the rubber.
Federer, who won his first Hopman title back in 2001 with Martina Hingis, was delighted to be able to guide the Swiss into another final.
“I’m very happy, the goal was always to get to the finals,” he said.
“On top of that, I am playing well and it was an exciting match against Stefanos. I thought Stefanos came out and played a great match and so did I.
“Very little unforced errors, it was very good quality tennis, it could easily have gone three sets.”