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By Chris Oddo | Friday January 5, 2018

Germany and Switzerland will meet in the Hopman Cup final on Saturday and Alexander Zverev says he owes it all to Angelique Kerber. “I’m going to give Angie all the credit, I nearly screwed up the whole thing,” he said after Germany edged Australia in a nip-and-tuck mixed doubles battle.

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Kerber and Zverev battled past Daria Gavrilova and Thanasi Kokkinakis, 1-4, 4-1, 4-3(3), after Kokkinakis had upset Zverev 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-4 to push the competition to the distance.

“The singles was one thing, but in the mixed I played a horrible first set. She kept pushing me and kept saying ‘come on we can do this,’” Zverev said of Kerber, who had earlier dispatched Gavrilova, 6-1, 6-2. Kerber has won all six of her singles sets at Hopman Cup, also notching wins over Elise Mertens of Belgium and Eugenie Bouchard of Canada.

She has cut a rejuvenated figure in Perth this week, and there is hope that she’ll find the form that eluded her for all of 2017 this winter.

Kerber struggled mightily throughout 2017, going just 29-24 and only 1-12 against the Top 20. But she’s picking up confidence with each win at Hopman Cup, and she’ll hope to continue her momentum when she faces similarly resurgent Belinda Bencic in Saturday’s final.

Along with Kerber, Bencic has been one of the biggest stories of the Hopman Cup. The Swiss has now won 18 consecutive matches after spending most of 2017 on the shelf due to injuries. The former World No.7 dropped outside of the top 300 last summer but is now inside the Top 100 again after winning four challenger titles in the last four months of last season.

It will be an intriguing battle between two players eager to summon the magic of their past. Bencic has won all three of her matches against Kerber in straight sets.

The men’s singles will be equally captivating in the final, as Roger Federer holds a 3-2 lifetime edge over Zverev at the tour level, but the German defeated the Swiss last season at Hopman Cup in a three-setter for the ages.

Zverev has proven up to the task of matching wits with Federer in the last 12 months, but the 20-year-old German knows he needs to be wary about Federer regardless of his previous success against him.

“I haven’t played my best yet,” said Zverev. “Hopefully I can get better. Today I was better than the first two singles, but it’s far from perfect and that is why I’m off to practice now at 11.30pm. I just have to prepare as best I can for Roger.”


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