January 1, 2018 / 3:12 PM / a year ago

Kerber fires as Germany edge past Belgium in Hopman Cup

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Wimbledon - London, Britain - July 10, 2017 Germany’s Angelique Kerber in action during her fourth round match against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

(Reuters) - Angelique Kerber showed plenty of tenacity to beat Belgium’s Elise Mertens before teaming up with Alexander Zverev to help Germany get their Hopman Cup campaign off to a winning start at the Perth Arena on Monday.

Kerber put Germany ahead with a hard-fought 7-6(6) 7-6(1) victory over Mertens in the round robin stage of the eight-nation mixed team event.

David Goffin helped Belgium get back into the contest with a clinical 6-3 6-3 win over world number four Zverev to leave the tie at 1-1. But Kerber and Zverev were too strong for their rivals in the deciding mixed doubles rubber, winning 4-2 4-3.

Kerber started her singles match slowly, conceded an early break but fought back to claim three games in a row. She saved a set point at 5-6 and then forced a tiebreak which she won with a crisp backhand winner.

The former world number one raced to a 3-1 lead in the second set as Mertens struggled to cut out the errors. Despite saving a match point, Mertens could not match her rival in the tiebreak as Kerber prevailed in two hours.

“It gives me a lot of confidence to start the year like this,” said the world number 21. “I think I need a few more matches to really get into my rhythm. However, for a start it was a good job.

“My goal is to play the three matches, hopefully four, and to find a good transition from all the practice to the match court ahead of the first grand slam of the year.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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