Saturday’s Set Points: Switzerland win the Hopman Cup again, Sabalenka triumphs in Shenzhen

It”s been a great start to the 2019 season with the first champion of the year crowned in Shenzhen. The Hopman Cup also finished (perhaps forever?) with a a dramatic conclusion in the mixed doubles match. Sunday will see the two finals in Brisbane and Auckland, as well as the qualifying matches in Sydney. Still keeping up?! Read on for 7 stories in Saturday’s Set Points post.

Switzerland d. Germany to win Hopman Cup for the 2nd time in a row

The Hopman Cup came to a dramatic conclusion on Saturday night in Perth as Switzerland beat Germany in the decisive mixed doubles match, 4-0 1-4 4-3 (5-4). The FAST4 format resulted in the match coming down to the final point – at 4-4 in the third set, both teams had Championship point! The final set of the mixed doubles was fantastic. My favourite rally is linked below where Angie went toe-to-toe with Rog before going around-the-net-post with a winner. Angie had another sensational Hopman Cup. Surely one of the faves for the AO?

I’m so-so with the FAST4 format, but definitely not as critical as most on social media. It hardly seems fair that Switzerland got three serves in a row at the end of the match? However, that end was exhilirating! I generally seem to disagree with the majority on length of the matches in tennis as I favour quality over quantity.

If this was the final Hopman Cup, they certainly went out with a bang. The future seems unclear for now with the ATP cup set for 2020. There were no mentions of next year from the organisers in the trophy ceremony. I do hope the format is somehow replicated somewhere else in the tennis calendar because it is unique and has produced some wonderful moments over the years. The tournament has been such a huge success in Perth and has consistently drawn in the crowds. It’s clearly popular with the players so I wonder if having their support could help, especially Federer. Still buzzing after today’s final!

Sabalenka wins Shenzhen

Aryna Sabalenka rallied from a set down to beat Alison Riske in Saturday’s Shenzhen final. For the first WTA final of 2019, Riske and Sabalenka set the bar high. This was a fantastic final. Riske played a great opener, serving well and dominating with down-the-line strikes. Sabalenka struggled to convert on her second set lead as a gutsy Riske saved some set points to force a second set tiebreak. The American, who has twice finished as finalist in Shenzhen before, fought valiantly but Sabalenka was ultimately too strong and served superbly in the decider.

A great start to the year for Sabalenka who has put down a solid marker as an outsider for the Australian Open. The Belarusian will fly onto Sydney where she plays Petra Kvitova (!!!) in the first round on Monday/Tuesday.

What a rally in Shenzhen!

The best point of Saturday’s Shenzhen final is linked below – well worth a watch back!

Sabalenka’s speech

I loved Sabalenka’s speech as she shouted over to Riske to teach her how she hits her backhand down-the-line!

Brisbane final – Pliskova vs. Tsurenko

Sunday’s Brisbane final will be contested between Karolina Pliskova and Lesia Tsurenko after both players won their semi-finals in straight sets. Pliskova beat Donna Vekic, 6-4 6-3. Vekic had said in yesterday’s press conference that she had practised with Pliskova at the start of the week and the Czech player had destroyed her! Tsurenko beat Naomi Osaka, 6-2 6-4 in a surprising result. Tsurenko has yet to drop a set all week.

As well as playing the final, Pliskova and Tsurenko are also drawn to meet in the first round of Sydney. I’ve not seen either play a full match yet this week but i’d go for Pliskova who has become so reliable. I still have question marks about whether she can string together seven wins at a Slam and bring her best level against the top ten.

Auckland final – Goerges vs. Andreescu

The big story in Auckland has been the run of 18-year-old, Bianca Andreescu. The young Canadian has beaten the trio of Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams and Hsieh Su-Wei to reach her first WTA final. I’m super impressed she managed to back up those big wins over Caroline and Venus by beating Hsieh who is one of the trickiest players on tour. I often find players like Hsieh and Niculescu can be the trickiest for the up-and-comers as they play so differently. I watched most of Andreescu’s come-from-behind win over V.Williams in the quarter-finals where she won, 6-7(1) 6-1 6-3. I was surprised by how Andreescu managed to reset after losing the first set and then eventually overpower Williams. Another one to watch!!!

Goerges has had another great run in Auckland. I really enjoyed her quarter-final win over Eugenie Bouchard which has been one of the better matches of the week. Both Goerges and Bouchard played well in the windy conditions with Goerges ultimately rewarded for being bolder on the big points and an absolute demon at the net in the deciding set tiebreak. This point was one of my favourite so far this week. Goerges beat Viktoria Kuzmova today in the semi-finals. Both have very similar games centered on the serve and huge groundstrokes. Goerges’s boldness again shone through with some killer forehands in the second set tiebreak.

Anything seems possible with Andreescu this week as she must be floating on air with confidence, excitement and momentum. I’d still back Goerges based on experience and boldness in the big moments.

Safarova’s retirement delayed

Lucie Safarova announced on Friday that she has pulled out of the Australian Open due to a wrist injury. The Czech player has confirmed that she still wants to finish her career on the court. I’m wondering where it will be – Doha? Indian Wells? French Open? Really hope we get to see Lucie on a tennis court one last time.

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10 thoughts on “Saturday’s Set Points: Switzerland win the Hopman Cup again, Sabalenka triumphs in Shenzhen

  1. I think Lucie will finish her career in Europe. My money is on the Prague open or French open. Maybe both. But of course it also depends on her recovery time.

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  2. Enjoyed the Hopman final between Kerber and Bencic. Bencic appears to have lost weight and is playing better. Bouchard also seems to be playing better and could be a factor in this years events.
    CC Bellis may be done, or taking a long layoff to let mother nature heal her injuries. Bellis has had 3 surgeries in June, Sept and Nov for wrist and elbow problems.

    Saw a story a week ago in Aussieland — 49c or 120f deg — perfect conditions for the MOO.

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    • I also noticed Bencic being leaner. I’m glad, because her movement was really an issue for me. I felt like she was trying to be a big hitter and not embracing her own game style, which it seems she’s moving back towards.

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    • She is looking trim, does play well with Federer too. Her loss here were against Sakkari, Williams and Kerber. I hope she is finding her game again this season, especially against top challengers.
      Anyway on to Hobart, we’ll see how things shape up from there.

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  3. Hopman cup was a fun Davis/Fed Cup. It has one of the nicest tournament logos too imo. This ATP world team cup better be as good as they are thinking. Maybe they could convince a Singapore to host a similar tournament seeing as they are giving up the Year End Championship to China. The tournament stays in the Asia Region on Hard courts. However, it might lose the Hopman name cause of the Australian history. By the way, how different is the ATP world team cup from A Davis cup in terms of tournament play.

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    • Good question and I don’t know the answer! All these team events (plus the Laver Cup too) just seems absurd to me. I’m concerned how it will affect the WTA events next year.

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  4. Shame for Tsurenko today. Played so well for a set and a half and was serving for the championship, when Pliskova completely turned the match on its head and started playing A* power tennis. Leisa had a bit of an awkward ankle twist, I hope she will be fit for Australia because she could be dangerous to any top player there.

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