‘Flaw­less’ Fed­erer does it easy

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - JAMIE PANDARAM

ASH­LEIGH Barty’s hopes of go­ing one bet­ter than her fi­nal de­feat at last year’s Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional have been hit by a night­mare draw this week.

Aus­tralia’s top-ranked wo­man faces 2017 French Open cham­pion Je­lena Ostapenko in the first round, and if she wins she will then have to play world No.1 Si­mona Halep. Barty reached last year’s Syd­ney fi­nal, where she was beaten by Ger­many’s An­gelique Ker­ber, who de­feated her in the Hop­man Cup in Perth.

Fel­low Aus­tralian women hope­fuls Sa­man­tha Sto­sur and Ajla Toml­janovic also have tough first-round en­coun­ters.

Sto­sur takes on former Aus­tralian Open fi­nal­ist Do­minika Cibulkova, with the win­ner likely to face US Open cham­pion and third-seed Naomi Osaka in round two.

Toml­janovic faces Ital­ian Camila Giorgi, who made the semi-fi­nal in Syd­ney last year be­fore los­ing to Ker­ber.

Wild­card en­trant Daria Gavrilova will face a qual­i­fier in the open­ing round. SWITZER­LAND are just one win away from de­fend­ing their Hop­man Cup crown af­ter Roger Fed­erer de­feated Ger­many’s Alexan­der Zverev 6-4 6-2 last night.

Fed­erer was sim­ply ir­re­sistible in front of a near sell­out crowd at RAC Arena, coun­ter­ing the power of Zverev with classy stroke play and un­pre­dictable deft­ness.

Zverev un­leashed a se­ries of pow­er­ful serves, some of which ex­ceeded 220km/h. But Fed­erer snared the cru­cial break in the 10th game of the first set, be­fore break­ing the young Ger­man again early in the sec­ond set on the way to the 70minute win.

World No.2 An­gelique Ker­ber needs to beat Belinda Ben­cic in the women’s sin­gles rub­ber to keep Ger­many’s ti­tle hopes alive.

Fed­erer has been flaw­less since ar­riv­ing in Perth, beat­ing Frances Ti­afoe, Ste­fanos Tsit­si­pas, Cameron Nor­rie, and Zverev in straight sets. “I’m happy I’m feel­ing this good and play­ing as well as I am,” Fed­erer said. “It’s good to fin­ish on a sin­gles per­for­mance like this.”

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