Ahead of their anticipated showdown in mixed doubles on Tuesday, Federer and Serena dressed up and joined their team-mates and rivals to celebrate the New Year, on a night where Belinda Bencic apparently had wardrobe woes, Angelique Kerber mocked her partner Alexander Zverev for being perennially late, and Katie Boulter and Cameron Norrie gave themselves the ‘Best Dressed’ title.
Above is a look at how the night unfolded in Perth.
An emotional Andy Murray told spectators on Pat Rafter Arena he wasn’t sure how long his tennis career was going to last but the former world No. 1 plans on enjoying what’s left of it as he continues to bounce back from a serious hip injury.
Murray, who defeated James Duckworth 6-3, 6-4 in his Brisbane first round on Tuesday, has been dealing with this hip problem for past year and a half and underwent surgery 12 months ago in Australia.
The Scot, currently ranked 240 in the world, admits he still feels pain and discomfort in his hip, but notes there’s been a lot of progress since he started his comeback in Queens last June.
“It’s not easy to sort of sum up in one sentence or one answer, it’s been a really hard 18 months, a lot of ups and downs, it was tricky just to kind of get back on the court competing again. So I’m happy I’m back out here again, I want to try to enjoy it as much as I can, just try and enjoy playing tennis as much as I can. I don’t know how much longer it’s going to last but we’ll see,” Murray said on court after his win over Duckworth.
Later in his press conference, the 31-year-old explained how it took him time to wrap his head around the seriousness of his injury.
“I don’t feel particularly like apprehensive and stuff about my hip as such today, just because I’ve trained on it more and been here playing practice sets with guys, and I’ve just had a lot longer to get used to it, whereas when I was playing again in kind of June, July time last year, my hip was pretty sore,” said Murray, who takes on Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the second round on Wednesday.
“I hadn’t really practiced much. I hadn’t played matches for a long time, and psychologically it was difficult. I was concentrating more on that than actually playing the match or my tactics. I was thinking a lot about my hip whilst I was playing; whereas, today I didn’t really think about it at all, just concentrating on the match.”
“It’s been really hard… 18 months, a lot of ups and downs. It was tricky to get back on the court competing again. I want to try enjoy playing tennis as long as I can.” — @andy_murray #BrisbaneTennis pic.twitter.com/37LNC2JcJ6
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 1, 2019
Murray played 12 matches in 2018, winning seven of them, and ended his season in September after making the quarter-finals in Shenzhen. He is not pain-free yet, and confessed that even walking can cause him discomfort – a fact that was not easy for him to digest at first.
“There are certain shots and certain positions on the court, certain movements that I make that are worse than others,” said Murray.
“Weirdly enough, walking is actually worse than some of the movements I have to make on the court, which is odd, and that’s something that is frustrating for me at times, because I don’t like walking around limping. Like when I see a video of myself doing that, that’s been one of the things that’s got me down quite a lot the last year or so because I feel like as an athlete I should be able to do that properly. And yeah, so that’s something that’s kind of taken a bit of time to get used to.
“But like I said, on the court today, yeah, I was in a little bit of discomfort, but I don’t feel like it hampered too many of my shots or my movements or anything and I was able to go out there and compete pretty well for the most part. So try to recover well tonight and then see how I come back tomorrow. But it was a good start.”
Another thing Murray has had to adjust to was the necessary changes he needed to make to his warm-up and training routines.
“I used to spend a lot more time kind of practicing and in the gym and stuff. So in the offseason, like a three-hour session would kind of be normal, like on the court, I would do a few of them per week, and in the offseason I was not really practicing more than an hour and a half at any one time,” he added.
“And before practices, yeah, spending more time getting warmed up before I get on the court and doing a lot of pool work and stuff and trying to work on my range of motion and things like that before I get out there.
“So I’ve had to change a lot of things in how I prepare and how I do things, which is difficult when you’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time and it’s been successful, to make that change is difficult. But didn’t really have a choice, so that helped and made it a bit easier.”
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A historic New Year’s Day in Perth ended with Serena Williams and Roger Federer trading compliments about their famous serves after the two legends squared off in mixed doubles at the Hopman Cup.
Federer and his partner Belinda Bencic combined to defeat Serena and Frances Tiafoe 4-2, 4-3(3) to secure victory for Switzerland against USA in the mixed team competition in Western Australia.
After the one-of-a-kind showdown, dubbed as ‘Battle of the GOATs’, Federer and Serena, who own 43 Grand Slam singles titles between them, were interviewed together by Todd Woodbridge.
“It was a great experience, I’m kind of sad it’s over, I was just warming up. It was so fun,” said the 37-year-old Serena.
“This is something, as we grew up together, just watching, and having an opportunity, after all these years – we’ve actually never done this, so this was super cool that we got to do it at such a pinnacle point in both our careers. For me it was super cool, I literally wanted to take pictures, I wanted to bring my baby out, I’m like way too excited. It was really fun.”
Both Federer and Serena struggled to return each others’ serve and the Swiss later explained what it was like facing the 23-time major champion.
“I was nervous returning, because you just don’t know. People talk about her serve so much and I see why it is such a wonderful serve, because you just can’t read it,” he stated before Serena interrupted him saying: “I can’t read yours either”.
Federer continued: “We have the same qualities but yours is a bit better. For me it was a bit nerve-wracking too to be honest because all of a sudden, especially the last serve at 3-all, I’m like, ‘I got to win this point, but it’s Serena Williams’, and I was telling myself, ‘This is maybe what I’ve always wanted, a big time moment like this’, and I made the serve but then I actually totally missed the target, and thank you for missing for missing the all. It was great, great fun.
“Great champion, you see how focused and determined she is and I love that about her.”
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) January 1, 2019
Serena feels Federer’s serve is actually underrated and joked that she’ll ask him for tips later.
“The guy is great, he’s the greatest of all time to be honest, both on the court and off the court, he has such charisma,” said Serena.
“I think, I’m trying to narrow it down here, I don’t know if this is the right thing to say, I think his serve is super underestimated. He has a killer serve, literally you can’t read it. There’s a reason why he’s the greatest, because you can’t be that great and not have such an awesome weapon like that serve. I watch him all the time but I never knew how amazing it was, so it was really cool to kind of learn, hopefully I can get some tips later on.”
Earlier in the day, Serena came from a set down to defeat Bencic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, while Federer downed Tiafoe 6-4, 6-1.