Perth: A buoyant Angelique Kerber beat a battling Eugenie Bouchard to lead Germany to a 3-0 win over Canada at the mixed-teams Hopman Cup on Wednesday.
Former world No. 1 Kerber notched up her second straight-set win in Perth to start the new year, while Bouchard — once ranked fifth but now 83rd — was testy after yet another comprehensive defeat.
Kerber’s win gave the Germans a perfect start to the Group A tie. Young gun Alexander Zverev then ensured they remained unbeaten after two outings with an emphatic win over Vasek Pospisil.
In the dead mixed doubles, the Germans completed a clean sweep with a straight-set win.
If the Germans beat Australia on Friday, they will be guaranteed a berth in Saturday’s final.
As was the case in her 6-1, 6-4 loss to Australian Daria Gavrilova on Monday, Bouchard barely fired a shot against Kerber in the first set but resurrected her game in the second.
At 3-3 in the second set Bouchard held four break points. But Kerber staved them off, held serve and then strolled through the last two games comfortably to win 6-1, 6-3 in 57 minutes.
The contrasting moods of Kerber and Bouchard told the story, with the former rapidly regaining confidence in her own game after a frustrating 2017 in which she slipped from No. 1 in the rankings to 21st.
With emphatic wins over Belgium’s Elise Mertens and Bouchard, who has troubled Kerber in previous meetings, the German was thrilled with her early-season form before the Australian Open, which provided her maiden Grand Slam in 2016.
“I was feeling very good from the first point,” she said. “I was trying to be aggressive and play my game.
“It is not so easy to play against Eugenie but today it was a good match.
“It’s [her own game] feeling a little bit better than one week ago.”
But Bouchard could barely contain her frustration, complaining about match scheduling and the off-court activities in Perth after an error-riddled performance.
The 23-year-old said she was trying not to be consumed by the pressure to climb back up the rankings.
“It will take as long as it will take,” she said. “For me, I can’t worry about it, I’m trying to do my best.
“However long it will take is what will happen, and I’ll have to deal with that.”
World No. 4 Zverev cruised past the 108th-ranked Pospisil in a 6-4, 6-2 win. The German called it his reward for putting in extra practice after his disappointing singles loss to Belgium’s David Goffin on Monday.