January 8, 2015 / 1:43 PM / 3 years ago

Sluggish Serena downs Safarova in Hopman Cup thriller

Serena Williams of the U.S. plays a backhand shot to Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic during their women's singles tennis match at the 2015 Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, January 8, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

(Reuters) - The promised “two thousand times better” improvement did not materialize as a sluggish Serena Williams eked out a narrow 6-3 6-7(1) 7-6(6) win over Lucie Safarova at the Hopman Cup in Perth on Thursday.

Williams belted 41 winners, eight more than Safarova, but also committed 46 unforced errors in the see-saw contest.

“I just never give up,” a tired-looking Williams said in a courtside interview. “I’ve been through so much in my life on the tennis court. I just keep fighting and keep doing the best I can.”

After her shock straight sets defeat by Eugenie Bouchard on Tuesday, Williams had warned she could play “two thousand times better” but the improvement did not show against a gritty Safarova.

”I’d love to do a little better,“ said Williams. ”I missed a few shots. I was not aggressive. Lucie played really, really well. She was aggressive. She kept hitting a lot of winners.

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Justin Palmer

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