Federer wins battle of all-time greats vs Williams as Switzerland beat USA at Hopman Cup
Federer and Williams – who boast an incredible 43 Grand Slam titles and over $200 million in career prize money between them – were meeting for the first and potentially last ever time on court.
It was men’s star Federer who claimed bragging rights as he and Swiss partner Belinda Bencic overcame US duo Williams and Frances Tiafoe in the mixed doubles to hand Switzerland a 2-1 win in the tie at the eight-nation Hopman Cup in Perth.
Earlier in the day Federer eased past Frances Tiafoe in their men’s singles match, winning 6-4, 6-1 to put Switzerland 1-0 up in the tie.
Williams had a trickier start to her singles match against Belinda Bencic, losing the first set 4-6 before recovering to win 6-4, 6-3 and leveling things for the US.
That set up the decisive rubber in the mixed doubles and the much-anticipated match-up between the two 37-year-old all-time greats.
In the end the Swiss pair eased to victory in the shortened ‘fast’ format for the doubles, taking the first set 4-2 and the second set 4-3 on a tie-break.
Both Federer and Williams had spoken of their excitement at facing each other ahead of the match, which was part of the round-robin group stage of the eight-nation Hopman Cup.
The tournament format involves two singles matches and a mixed doubles meeting between countries in a round-robin group stage, before the winners of the two groups meet in the final on Saturday.
It was Federer who emerged victorious in Tuesday's tie as Williams did not appear at her best during the doubles encounter, frequently feeling her right shoulder, which suggests she may have been hampered by injury.
The win for the Swiss leaves the defending champions looking good for a spot in Saturday’s final as they top Group B, while the USA sit bottom of the group after also losing to Greece in their opening game.
Switzerland next take on Greece on Thursday, the same day as the USA take on Great Britain.
The other group contains Spain, France, Australia and Germany.
After the tournament the players will turn their attention to the Australian Open in Melbourne, where Williams will be looking for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam singles title.
Federer will be chasing his 21st title as he remains out on his own at the top of the men’s game.