(Reuters) - Roger Federer dismissed Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-4 6-3 in just over an hour on Saturday to give Switzerland a winning start at the Hopman Cup and send out a signal to his opponents ahead of next month’s Australian Open.
Coming off a fruitful year which yielded two grand slam titles, world number two Federer looked fit and sharp while other members of tennis’s ‘Big Four’ are grappling with injury issues.
Federer hurried to save a break point in his first game but otherwise did not have any trouble against the 29-year-old Sugita, whom he broke in the fifth game, and there was no looking back from there.
“It’s been an absolute dream run,” the Swiss said, looking back at the year.
“It’s gone by too fast to be honest, you know. When you’re having fun things go too fast but what a year it has been, (I) could not be happier.
“Such a huge surprise. I’m healthy, had a great off-season, so pleased to have the year that I had.”
The 19-times grand slam winner, who will be defending his title at Melbourne Park next month, was happy with the way he coped with the demands of the game.
“I feel the game has evolved again in the last 10 years or so. I have made some adjustments to my game, I’m trying to hit through the backhand a bit more, maybe I have a bit more pop on the serve and naturally the whole rally has changed because you have different options.
“I think I’m playing very well, otherwise I wouldn’t be having the results that I’m having. I’m happy I’m still playing at this level. I was always hoping to play for a long time and I’m doing that.”
Belinda Bendic beat Naomi Osaka 7-5 6-3 in the women’s contest to clinch Switzerland’s victory in the round-robin stage of the mixed team event.
Earlier, CoCo Vandeweghe beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Jack Sock downed Karen Khachanov to help United States beat Russia at the Perth Arena.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Clare Fallon