Roger Federer is embracing his position as the one to watch and defending champion at the upcoming Australian Open after he helped guide Switzerland to a third success in the Hopman Cup in Perth on Saturday, alongside team-mate Belinda Bencic.
The world No. 2 went undefeated in singles matches this week in Perth, defeating Yuichi Sugita, Karen Khachanov, Jack Sock and Alexander Zverev. Last year Federer competed at the Hopman Cup then flew to Melbourne and stunned the world by winning the Australian Open title following a six-month injury absence.
The 36-year-old Swiss will be looking for a repeat this month in Melbourne, and if his form in Perth is anything to go by, he looks in prime position to win a 20th Grand Slam title.
"I'm just really excited going back to Melbourne, where I had my fairy tale run last year, it was that crazy," said Federer, who is aware he is tipped by many to defend his Aus Open crown.
"That's normal, but it's a long way I must admit. It's great to be the defending champion, I take it the right way this year I think. I won't put extra pressure on myself regardless of who's going to play or not play or regardless of what the draw is. I think for me it's just important to be in a good mindset, well-prepared, and then just ready to go. And I feel like I am already."
What a night. @rogerfederer and @BelindaBencic are crowned #HopmanCup champions 🏆 pic.twitter.com/1s6alrMfnA
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) January 6, 2018
Ukraine's Elina Svitolina laid down her marker as a serious contender for the Australian Open when she demolished Belarusian qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-1 in the Brisbane International final on Saturday.
Svitolina won five titles on the WTA tour last year, more than any other woman.
She ended the year ranked sixth in the world, but will climb two places when the new rankings are released on Monday and will go into the year's first Grand Slam as the fourth seed.
Svitolina said she had worked hard in the offseason to improve her game and that work was now paying off.
"I've started to play more consistently and there's lots of things that changed," she said. "I'm stronger physically. I have a different look to my game."
— WTA (@WTA) January 6, 2018
Nick Kyrgios claimed a big scalp on Saturday, defeating world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov for the first time to reach his maiden tour-level final in Australia, but insists he will move on quickly as he looks to start the season with a title triumph.
Kyrgios ended the Bulgarian's title defence in Brisbane with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 success, producing a serving masterclass in the last two sets on Pat Rafter Arena. The talented Aussie next takes on American world No. 47 Ryan Harrison, who halted the heroic run of 18-year-old Alex de Minaur 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in Saturday's semi-finals.
"He had a pretty good end to his year. Yeah, it feels good. Obviously, it's confidence for me," said Kyrgios of Dimitrov, who won the year-end ATP Finals in London last November.
"But I've played a lot of the top players before and I know that I can't just -- you know, it's just another match for me. I can't expend too much energy on one match. I'm moving on now and just trying to get ready for tomorrow."
It was Kyrgios' third three-set win of the week, and despite some concerns over a knee injury he picked up before his first match in Brisbane, the 22-year-old is hopeful he can seal the deal against Harrison on Sunday.
Dimitrov on Kyrgios: He was just serving unbelievable, just hitting his spots. Like, I even thought at some point was a little bit, like, carelessly hitting the ball, and they were getting in.
More here: https://t.co/ncAFgpQRFV pic.twitter.com/gGVKiwKcGx
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) January 6, 2018