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Tennis • 10sBalls Takes A Last Look @Hopman Cup Exhibition Event Won By Roger Federer & Belinda Bencic

Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland celebrate their finals win with the Hopman Cup after winning on the final day of the Hopman Cup final between Switzerland and Germany at the Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, 06 January 2018. EPA-EFE/TONY MCDONOUGH



By Lloyd Emanuel


“Bencic Rocks the Mixed Final at the Hopman Cup”


I’m not usually a fan of exhibition tennis, and certainly never paid much attention to the Hopman Cup over the years, in the run up to the Aussie Open. As evidenced by the huge crowds in Perth, the presence of Roger certainly stimulated unprecedented fan attendance and interest in this year’s exhibition event.


Like most tennis fans, by the time January rolls around, I am starved for live matches to watch–even before the first major begins, and with Tennis Channel’s coverage from Perth, and Roger’s appearance, I soaked up as much of Harry’s Cup as I could. Roger was in splendid form, taking out Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, Russia’s Karen Khachanov, USA’s Jack Sock & Germany’s Sasha Zverev in the finals, Fed was thrilling the large crowds every session. I was thinking, wouldn’t it have been great for Martina Hingis to have postponed her retirement by just a couple of months in order to partner with Fed one more time & try to go out a winner, like they had in 2001.


Alas, the young & talented Belinda Bencic, sidelined much of last year due to injury, was selected on the women’s side. Well, this isn’t an article about the indominatable Federer, it’s about the incredible performance by the young Bencic. Undefeated in the preliminaries over Japan’s Naomi Osaka, and Russia’s Anastasia Puvlyuchenkova and then straight-setting Coco Vandeweigh in the semis, Bencic matched Roger win for win until falling in the finals to 2-time Grand Slam winner, Germany’s Angie Kerber, thus setting the stage for the Cup-deciding mixed doubles match between the Swiss pair and the German duo.


Now, as an aside, and as a long-time tournament director, I am not opposed to alternative scoring rules, when used wisely. I was thus not unhappy with the 2 best of 3 “short sets” (first to 4, tiebreak at 3-all), no-ad scoring adopted for the mixed. But for the life of me, I can’t understand the decision to have a 9 point, sudden death tiebreaker at 3-all in each set, as opposed to the traditional 12 point (“lingering death”) that replaced the 9 point format decades ago. The flawed sudden death tiebreaker would allow the team that serves first to win every point on their serve and still lose the set! Not good and not fair, in my opinion, as the whole premise of winning a tennis match is built around the need to break, or at least mini-break serve, and sudden death eliminates that need.


Anyway, back to the mixed final. First, it may be stating the obvious, but when you’re playing a mixed doubles match and your partner is the GOAT, you can expect a lot of balls blasted your way.


Roger Federer of Switzerland serves during the mixed doubles match between Roger Federer with Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Karen Khachanov with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia on day 4 of the Hopman Cup tennis tournament at Perth Arena in Perth, Western Australia, Australia, 02 January 2018. EPA-EFE/TONY MCDONOUGH

In a match played in deadly earnest, the first set went to 3-all. At 2-1 up in the tiebreak, the lefty Kerber served wide to Bencic’s backhand in the ad court, who calmly ripped a return winner down the line past a crossing Zverev. Then with Fed serving the next 2, Bencic volleyed 3 Sasha blasts to help take a 4-2 lead. But with Zverev holding the last 3 serves, who do you like? Serving to Fed in the deuce court, Sasha unleashed a wide ace, 3-4. Now who do you like? Serving to Bencic in the ad court, Zverev ripped a first serve down the middle, at which time Bencic uncorked a rocket inside-out forehand right back to the baseline, at Sasha’s feet, who meekly netted a short hop backhand, giving the Swiss pair the first set. In the 2nd set, the 4 held to 2-all, Zverev serving. At 0-15, Bencic duplicated her bullet inside-out forehand on another first serve which Zverev was barely able to short hop in play. Fed finished off the point with an easy overhead to 0-30. At 15-30, Bencic crushed another Zverev 2nd serve to the forehand, inside-in, passing Kerber down her alley & helping secure the critical 2nd set break. Fed held to love, aided by 2 Bencic volley winners, to close out the match and the Hopman Cup. It was great to see the legendary Neale Fraser present the Cup to the winners.


I recommend “ U- Tubing” the mixed final, 32 minutes of a tremendously entertaining Bencic show.


10sBalls welcomes Lloyd Emanuel! We are sharing this great piece on the recent Hopman Cup. We realize that was so “last week.”.. But both Lloyd and I knew and loved Harry.

The tourney is great for Western Australia and Perth especially. And it’s a good thing they have the money to pay for the big talent. But it’s a bit of an Exo. You know exhibition. When the tourney throws Pat Cash in as an American replacement to play a mixed match that Jack Sock didn’t play. Well it’s a stretch at being a “real” tourney.

Lloyd makes some great points here. And we welcome his perspective. The man is a keen observer and tennis is blessed to have Him as a “Guardian Of the Game “! And soon to be a Hall Of Famer! (LJ) • Heres a short Bio •

Lloyd Emanuel is an award-winning tennis professional from Rye, New York. He has been directing clubs and running Eastern & National tournaments in the Eastern section of the United States for the past 35 years.

A varsity captain at Columbia, and for years a nationally ranked senior player, Lloyd maintains a Facebook group “Lloyd Emanuel’s Tournaments”.

For his contributions to the game, Lloyd will be inducted into the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame in April 2018.

• Most importantly, he has been a friend of Lovey’s for the past 50 years, and today they are still undefeated in Mixed Doubles!


Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland celebrate their finals win with the Hopman Cup after winning on the final day of the Hopman Cup final between Switzerland and Germany at the Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, 06 January 2018. EPA-EFE/TONY MCDONOUGH

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