TENNIS – Serena Williams stepped up her Australian Open preparations with a straight -sets victory over Britain ’s Katie Boulter on Thursday to complete an unbeaten Hopman Cup campaign in singles.
Williams cooled off after a strong start but prevailed with a 6-1, 7- 6 ( 2) victory in 78 minutes to level the tie between the United States and Britain in Group B.
Britain, however , won the tie when Boulter and playing partner Cameron Norrie had a comeback 3- 4 ( 2) , 4-3 (4) , 4- 1 victory over Williams and Frances Tiafoe in the mixed doubles.
The 37- year- old Williams’ hopes for a record third Hopman Cup title ended when the United States were eliminated after losses to Greece and Roger Federer- led Switzerland.
Defending champions Switzerland has a good chance to make the final ahead of its clash later Thursday against Greece, which remain a mathematical chance.
Hosts Australia and tournament favorites Germany will battle for a place in the decider in Group A action on Friday.
Williams slowly built momentum in her first tournament back since the U. S. Open Final in September as she eyes a record- equaling 24th Grand Slam singles title in Melbourne.
“It was definitely good to play three singles matches here, and the mixed (doubles ) ,” Williams said on-court after her singles match. Williams did not conduct a media conference later.
A sluggish Williams started slowly in victories over Maria Sakkari and Belinda Bencic, but breezed through the first set against a beleaguered Boulter in just 24 minutes.
Watched on by her daughter Alexis Olympia , the sweet -hitting Williams found her groove through an array of powerful forehand winners to overwhelm the 97th- ranked British player .
The one-sided contest took a surprising turn when Boulter broke Williams early in the second set but she was unable to consolidate on serve . Williams was made to work before putting the foot down in the tiebreak .
Earlier, Norrie upset Tiafoe 7- 6 ( 4) , 6-0. It ended a miserable tournament for the 20-year- old Tiafoe, who won just one set in his three matches.
The No . 91-ranked Norrie was impressive in Perth, highlighted by defeating Greece ’s No. 15-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas in his opening match.