'Miracle coffee' perks up Serena
PERTH, Australia (AP):
Feeling lethargic and jetlagged, Serena Williams decided a coffee might perk her up after losing her first set 6-0 at the Hopman Cup.
It did the trick.
Williams recovered to beat Flavia Pennetta 0-6, 6-3, 6-0 on a sweltering day in Perth, John Isner followed up with a 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (4) win over Fabio Fognini and the American pair combined to win the doubles for a 3-0 win over Italy in Group A yesterday in the international mixed-team competition.
Williams later joked it was "miracle coffee".
The top-ranked Williams laughed loudly as she checked with the chair umpire and then with the tournament referee about the coffee before a ball girl served her the brew on court.
"I was just not feeling it, so I just had to get some coffee into me," Williams said. "I just asked them to get me a shot of espresso - I asked them if it was legal, because I've never done it before. I needed to wake up."
Andy Murray had two wins in Britain's 2-1 victory over France in Group B, beating Benoit Paire 6-2, 7-5 and then combining with Heather Watson to win the deciding mixed doubles 6-4, 2-6, 10-8. Alize Cornet beat Watson 6-2, 6-2 in the women's singles to help France level the match 1-1.
Williams, the 18-time major winner, said the round-robin nature of the Hopman Cup took some pressure off her ahead of the Australian Open later this month, and she was also heeding some advice from her father, Richard.
"My dad says, 'Serena, you've done everything, enjoy yourself, I promise you'll play better'," Williams was quoted as saying after the match. "So I'm like, 'OK'. I'm trying to relax a bit more and play how I know I can play."
The roof was closed to cool the venue in Perth, where temperatures topped 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) yesterday, the city's hottest day since 1991.
Struggle for consistency
It was raining on the other side of the country in Brisbane, where two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka wasted two match points in the second set before Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic rallied to win 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4.
Azarenka, the losing finalist in Brisbane last year, was unseeded after sliding to a year-end No. 32 ranking due to knee and foot injuries in 2014. Slipping further in the rankings this month, Azarenka struggled for consistency against Pliskova, who saved three break points in the last game before serving out the match in three hours, 13 minutes. The result means Azarenka is unlikely to be seeded at the Australian Open, which starts on January 19.
American teenager Madison Keys had a 7-5, 6-2 first-round win over fourth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia earlier yesterday, breaking the 2014 Australian Open finalist's serve three times in a second set that was briefly interrupted by rain at the semi-enclosed arena.
Third-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany beat Caroline Garcia of France 6-4, 6-3.
On the men's side at the Brisbane International, Australians ousted two seeded French players, with James Duckworth beating No. 6 Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-2 and Thanasi Kokkinakis beating No. 8 Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-3.
At the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, 31-year-old Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia had an upset 6-3, 6-2 win over second-seeded Sara Errani of Italy.
Ana Konjuh of Croatia ousted eighth-seeded Mona Barthel of Germany 6-2, 6-1; 18-year-old American wildcard Taylor Townsend beat former champion and three-time Auckland finalist Yanina Wickmayer 7-5, 3-6, 6-0; and sixth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 6-3, 6-1.