PERTH, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer’s wish is about to be granted — he’s getting the chance to return Serena Williams’ powerful serve.
The famously unflappable Swiss acknowledges being excited about the prospect of taking on his fellow tennis great on Tuesday in a Hopman Cup mixed doubles match between Switzerland and the United States.
“I admire everything she has done both on and off the court,” Federer said. “I have always thought how is it to return that serve and go head-to-head with her.”
Federer made an impressive start in preparation for his Australian Open title defense with a seemingly effortless 6-1, 6-1 victory over Cameron Norrie on Sunday.
His playing partner Belinda Bencic also won to seal defending champion Switzerland’s victory over Britain in Group B.
Federer and Bencic will next take on Williams and Frances Tiafoe to kick-start the New Year with arguably the most anticipated match in the tournament’s three-decade history.
Tickets were sold out soon after being released for the showpiece encounter, which pits Federer and Williams on court for the first time. The 37-year-olds have won 43 Grand Slam singles titles between them.
“It’s very exciting for us. I hope tennis fans tune in and watch it because it’s going to be one time and probably never again in this type of competition,” Federer said.
By most people’s standards, the two stars have an unusual meeting place.
“I don’t know her that well. I only know her from some champions’ dinners at Wimbledon,” Federer said. “We have busy lives and a big entourage, so it’s rare to really deep dive. We can relate to each other more so now, being parents.”
Federer will head into the clash in form after a masterclass 57-minute thrashing of Norrie. The 20-time Grand Slam champion moved around the court well and hit the ball crisply to overwhelm Norrie.
“I was very happy that I was able to come out tonight and put in a good performance,” Federer said. “I was happy with all aspects of my game. footwork, offensive play, serve, return. It was all there.”