There might be no tougher act to follow in any sport this year than Serena Williams’ attempt to match her nearly perfect tennis season last year.
Williams, who won the first three majors last year and lost in the US Open semi-finals — 26 consecutive wins in majors, just missing a calendar-year Grand Slam — is to begin that attempt when she teams with Jack Sock for the US team at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Western Australia.
The Americans are to play their first match tomorrow against Ukraine.
The tournament is part of the Australian Open Series that includes the Brisbane International, which begins today and includes defending champions Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova, and next week’s Sydney International and Hobart International, culminating in the start of the Australian Open on Jan. 18 at Melbourne Park.
In between, Auckland, New Zealand is to host separate women’s and men’s tournaments over the next two weeks. This week, Shenzen, China hosts a WTA tournament, while Doha and Chennai, India hold ATP events.
Last year, Williams began her 53-3, five-title season with a win over Sharapova in the Australian Open final. She followed that with a win on clay in the French Open and on grass at Wimbledon before losing in a shocking upset to Roberta Vinci in the US Open semi-finals.
Williams and playing partner John Isner lost in the Hopman Cup final last year.
Her singles opponent in Perth on Monday, Elina Svitolina, is winless in three matches against Williams. The Ukrainian, who is teamed with Alexandr Dolgopolov, says it is always best to try to get to Williams early in a match.
“Sometimes she starts slowly,” Svitolina said. “It makes it really tough, because you never know if she’s going to serve an ace or a double fault, or it’s going to be a normal point.”
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
TAIWANESE TO PLAY: Jason Jung faces Frederico Coria in the men’s singles first round today, while in the women’s singles, Hsieh Su-wei is to take on Barbara Haas Novak Djokovic is to renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown. The only man to beat Djokovic this year is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open. The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome. Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to
Taiwan’s Jason Jung was knocked out of the first round of the French Open in straight sets on Sunday, while Andy Murray said it was going to be “difficult” for the former world No. 1 to reach his level of old after he also fell to a lopsided defeat by fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Jung fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Argentina’s Federico Coria in 3 hours, 19 minutes at Roland Garros, despite hitting 55 winners. Jung served for both the first and second sets, then failed to convert two set points at 5-4 in
Michael Schumacher’s son Mick said that the prospect of Lewis Hamilton equaling the Ferrari great’s all-time record of 91 wins has given him something to aim for when he gets to Formula One. Hamilton, who replaced Michael Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, can take his 91st victory in today’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi — a race he has won four times previously. “One sentence my dad always used to say was: ‘Records are there to be broken.’ It’s everybody’s aim in this sport to do that,” Formula Two championship leader Mick Schumacher said on Friday. “I think Lewis had a very, very