PAUL KANE/GETTY IMAGES
World No 2 Roger Federer joked that he had some dodgy help from the person running Hawkeye after overcoming some nervy moments to beat Russian Karen Khachanov at Perth Arena on Tuesday night.
Federer gave Switzerland a 1-0 lead in the Hopman Cup tie after beating Khachanov 6-3 7-6 (10-8) in front of 13,943 fans – a record crowd for the mixed-teams event.
The match was on a knife’s edge during a pulsating second-set tiebreak.
Federer saved a set point, before eventually prevailing on his third match point when he successfully challenged a Khachanov winner.
The 36-year-old thought the shot was in and was only challenging in the unlikely chance he was wrong.
To his surprise, Hawkeye showed the ball had sailed wide by the barest of margins, with Federer having a chuckle to himself after being awarded the win.
“I thought it was in,” Federer said. “When I looked at the mark on the floor, I thought it actually touched. And then when it went out, it was almost a bit of a surprise.
“It almost felt like somebody in the back said, ‘Let’s get this match over, we need Roger to win this one’.”
Khachanov took the decision on the chin.
“I mean what can you do? You have to put this ball inside the line. Next time,” Khachanov said.
“You just hope that it was in or it was touching the line. But you cannot do anything. Maybe Hawkeye was wrong.
“I mean, it’s tough to say. I was hitting. I didn’t see if it was in or not. I was hoping it was in.”
Former world No 7 Belinda Bencic can secure the tie win with victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the women’s singles rubber.
Federer started his Hopman Cup campaign with a straight sets win over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita.
And although he was broken in his first game against Khachanov, he quickly bounced back to win the opening set in 29 minutes.
The second set was an entertaining arm wrestle as both players produced powerful service games.
But Federer finally cracked the Russian in an epic tiebreak.
“It was good to play a tiebreaker of this kind early on in the season,” Federer said.
“Just to get through these nervy situations with the pulse up high, and you’re sweaty, and you’re trying to figure it out.
“It was a good match overall. I was very happy with my performance. I thought the intensity was great.”
The United States beat Japan 2-1 at the Hopman Cup after an illness withdrawal by one of the Japanese players, but the win may come at a cost after Jack Sock injured his hip.
Sock slipped on the court during the first set of his match against Yuichi Sugita, grabbing his hip. He was forced to retire at 1-1 in the second set after losing the first set 7-6 (1).
Hopman Cup director Paul Kilderry said he thinks Sock will be OK.
“He has had some treatment on it and he feels he’ll be good to go,” Kilderry said. “He said if felt uncomfortable out there, so I think he was just a little nervous about doing more damage.”
The US team had already led 1-0 after Japan’s female player, Naomi Osaka, withdrew with an unspecified illness, handing CoCo Vandeweghe a 6-0 6-0 win.
The Americans were also awarded the Fast4 mixed doubles match 4-0 4-0 because Osaka was not able to compete.
Osaka’s place in both matches was taken by 19-year-old local player Maddison Inglis, who was woken at 8.30am by tournament officials who told her she would be required to play.
Vandeweghe teamed up with her coach and 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash in the meaningless Fast4 mixed doubles match against Inglis and Sugita.
The US and Switzerland play on Thursday in a match that could decide which team advances from the group to Saturday’s final.
“Thursday night is a sell-out,” Kilderry said. “He (Sock) is confident he’ll be fine.”
In Group A matches on Wednesday, Canada plays Germany and Australia takes on Belgium. Australia beat Canada and Germany defeated Belgium in the opening round.
SHARAPOVA WINS, OSTAPENKO OUT
Maria Sharapova had 11 aces and saved seven of 10 break points to beat Alison Riske 4-6 6-3 6-2 on Tuesday and advance to the Shenzhen Open quarterfinals.
The five-time major winner will next face Zarina Diyas, who upset third-seeded Zhang Shuai 6-3 6-7 (5) 6-4.
“Although I would’ve wanted a quick and easy victory, these are the kind of matches that you need, especially with such a short preparation going into the Australian Open,” Sharapova said.
Earlier, Kristyna Pliskova, the twin of former No 1-ranked Karolina Pliskova, beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-1 6-4.
Ostapenko, who beat Serena Williams in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, was overwhelmed by Pliskova’s powerful serves.
“I felt a bit nervous in the second set, but my serve was really working today, which was a big help,” Pliskova said.
Pliskova will next play Ana Bogdan, who beat Camila Giorgi 6-4 6-2.
Aryna Sabalenka also advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-1 6-0 victory over Danka Kovinic, while Timea Babos defeated Magda Linette 6-2 6-1.
– AAP, AP