Millennium Post

Battle of sexes?

In tennis, the battle of sexes has ranged from encounters between the 1940s champion Bobby Riggs beating the great Margaret Court in the 70s and then losing to Billie Jean King with his slow lobs and drop shots. Jimmy Connors had made a quick job of beating Martina Navratilova. But to pit Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the greatest in their respective categories, in the Hopman's Cup was another story. Roger Federer was, naturally, on the winning side in his historic mixed doubles match against Serena Williams but in the end, the result hardly mattered.Paired with Belinda Bencic, Federer beat Williams and Frances Tiafoe 4-2 4-3 (5-3) to give Switzerland a 2-1 win over the United States in their round robin match. More importantly, it was the first and probably last time that fans would get to see the two tennis players, widely regarded as the greatest of all time, battle it out across the net in a competitive match, and after it was over they even had time to pose for a selfie that would surely go viral. Federer eventually clinched it for the reigning champion by claiming the winning point in the truncated tiebreak used in mixed doubles with a perfect angled volley. The Swiss maestro had talked before the match of his nervousness at facing the feared Serena serve and his fears seemed confirmed as he was unable to cope with two deliveries in her opening service game, but thereafter he took control of the match with Bencic. "I was nervous returning because it's a wonderful serve and you just can't read it," said Federer in the post-match interviews. "It was great fun and she is a great champion. You can see how focused she is and that's what I love about her." In truth, Serena was not given the chance to show much of the doubles prowess that has seen her win 16 grand slam titles in that discipline on top of her 23 in singles. Partner Tiafoe lost his service for the Americans to lose the opening set and she also appeared to be nursing a right shoulder injury although she insisted it was of no concern with the Australian Open looming. However, despite the disappointing defeat which leaves the United States unable to reach the final of an event it has won six times, Serena clearly relished testing herself against Federer. "It was a great experience, I'm sad it is over, I was just warming up," she joked. Serena also had no doubt as to the status of the 20 grand slams winner. "I mean the guy is the greatest of all time, both on and off the court," she said.

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