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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 April 2019

Serena Williams sweeps Hopman Cup singles ahead of grand slam record bid at Australian Open

American world No 16 needs one more major title to equal Maragert Court's haul, and will get her first chance in Melbourne this month

Serena Williams won all three of her singles matches at the Hopman Cup in Perth. EPA
Serena Williams won all three of her singles matches at the Hopman Cup in Perth. EPA

Serena Williams continued her preparations for the Australian Open by completing a clean sweep of singles victories at the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Thursday.

Williams, 37, will bid to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles when she arrives at Melbourne Park later this month, and the American would have been encouraged with her early season form so far.

After losing a tightly-fought contest to sister Venus in an exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, Williams completed her third successive singles win at the Hopman Cup with a 6-1, 7-6 over Britain's Katie Boulter, which followed wins over Maria Sakkari of Greece, and Swiss Belinda Bencic.

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However, the world No 16's perfect singles record this week wasn't enough to keep the United States in contention at what is expected to be the last Hopman Cup, where she has twice been a winner.

Williams and Frances Tiafoe were already eliminated after losing their opening two mixed doubles ties.

The former world No 1 played a limited schedule last season having given birth to her daughter in late 2017, but still managed to reach the Wimbledon and US Open finals. Her most recent grand slam title came at the Australian Open in 2017.

With the Australian Open less than two weeks away, Williams dropped just one set in her singles matches, although at times she seemed troubled by a right shoulder problem and had both ankles strapped.

Her form was patchy across the three matches, but Williams said the round robin format of the event was ideal preparation for Melbourne.

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'Greatest selfie of all time'

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"It was definitely good to play three singles matches here, not to mention the mixed," she said after her singles match.

Williams cruised through the first set against Boulter, but found a more competitive opponent in the second.

Not for the first time this week, the frustration of the American grew as Boulter was able to match her for winners, with the Brit claiming an early break in the second game.

Williams immediately broke back, but then enjoyed a slice of good fortune when her forehand dropped over the net on a Boulter break point in the fourth game.

The set remained on serve until the tie-break, which Williams dominated.

In the men's singles, the struggling Tiafoe led 5-3 in the first set, but won just one more game in losing 7-6, 6-0 to Cameron Norrie. The Brits claimed the tie with victory in the mixed doubles.

Updated: January 3, 2019 02:06 PM

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