Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber steered Germany closer to a second successive Hopman Cup final after winning their singles matches against lower-ranked French opponents in Perth on Wednesday.
The German top 10 duo, beaten in last year’s final of the mixed teams tournament by Swiss duo Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic, made it two wins from as many group outings, beating France 2-1. Kerber had to come from a set down to beat feisty Alize Cornet, while Zverev squandered a second-set match point before defeating Lucas Pouille in three sets.
In the mixed doubles, both sides took a very relaxed attitude to the dead rubber match and the French gained some consolation with a straight sets 4-3, 4-3 win. Ranked second in the world, Kerber served for the first set in her singles match against the 45th-ranked Cornet, but then dropped three successive games as the Frenchwoman claimed the set.
However, Kerber settled and claimed the next two sets to win 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in just over two hours and maintain her perfect singles record in Perth, with six wins from as many outings.
Kerber said Cornet was always a tricky opponent. “She is a fighter,” Kerber said. “I had my chances in the first set, but she was playing good then and I missed a few balls. I was trying to find my rhythm in the second set, trying to still keep going and then the third set I think it was just two or three points that decided it.”
Tight second set
Ranked fourth in the world, Zverev started well against the 32nd-ranked Pouille and took the first set comfortably on the back of a service break in the eighth game. However, the match tightened up in the second set, with both players holding set points.
Zverev had a match point during the second set tie-break, while it wasn’t until his sixth set point that Pouille levelled the match.
The pair traded service breaks early in the third set, but Zverev gained a second break for a 4-2 lead when the Frenchman double faulted and that sealed Pouille’s fate. “Lucas fought well and played very well in the important moments sometimes,” Zverev said, after winning 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.
“He is a very tough opponent. I just hope to keep going with Angie and seeing how far we can go.”
Unbeaten in their two group outings, the Germans will be guaranteed a spot in Saturday’s decider if they beat Australia on Friday.
France is out of contention after losing both its ties.