1 Serena Williams has the chance to make Hopman Cup history after regaining her winning mojo to power the US into Saturday’s final of the mixed-teams event.
Needing to win their tie against the Czech Republic 3-0 in order to qualify for the decider, the US shot out to a 2-0 lead following singles wins to Williams and John Isner.
Williams overcame the wobbles in the second set to beat Lucie Safarova 6-3 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (8-6), before Isner defeated Adam Pavlasek 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 at Perth Arena.
The Czech Republic only needed one rubber win to reach Saturday’s final, but the US pipped them courtesy of a 6-3 6-3 triumph in the mixed doubles.
Williams now has the chance to become the first person to win three Hopman Cup titles, with the US to take on either Poland, France or Great Britain in the final.
“It would really mean a lot for me to come out and to do well and win the event,” Williams said.
“I’m excited because our backs were against the wall. We play well under pressure.”
The 18-time grand slam champion complained of fatigue in her recent matches against Eugenie Bouchard and Flavia Pennetta, but the 33-year-old felt energised on Thursday night.
“I have an ache here and there, but physically I feel like I can run a 10km,” Williams said.
“It feels so much better than I did a couple of days ago. I feel really good now.
“I feel like I’m getting back in the groove. I’m not moving as well as I was last year. But I’m going to try to improve that. I know I can. I’m getting there.
“I needed that win. I was over losing to her in Perth. It feels really good to get through that.”
Williams banged her racquet in frustration during the second set of her singles win, but her fighting spirit spurred her on during a see-sawing third set.
“I just never give up,” Williams said.
“I have been through so much in my life and on the tennis court, I just keep fighting and just keep doing the best that I can and just keep going for it.”
Isner served 20 aces during his 67-minute demolition of world No.239 Pavlasek.
The big-serving American was full of praise for Williams’ efforts.
“That was one of the best singles games I’ve ever seen,” Isner said.
“She did her job. I was sweating bullets in the locker room watching.
“But then I was able to win my match and then win the mixed doubles.”