Perth: The United States claimed a 2-1 victory over South Africa at the Hopman Cup mixed team competition on Sunday. Venus Williams rallied to defeat Chanelle Scheepers 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, before Kevin Anderson levelled the tie for South Africa with a 7-6 (0), 7-6 (5) win over John Isner. The US clinched the tie by winning the mixed doubles 6-3, 6-2.
Williams took time to settle against an opponent who rallied well and hit the ball deep. But after conceding her serve at love to leave Scheepers serving for the first set, the American looked increasingly comfortable and aggressive.
After taking the second set when her opponent double-faulted, she then swept to a 4-0 lead in the third on her way to closing out the match. Isner held the only break point of the first set for a 4-2 lead but missed his return. In the second set, Isner fought off three break points at 3-2 and another at 4-3, but again fell short in the tiebreaker.
Williams was playing for the first time since winning the Luxembourg event in mid-October and was satisfied with her performance. "I was just trying to find some rhythm out there," Williams said. "She's obviously a really good player having maintained a top 40, top 50 ranking the last couple of years. She played a match yesterday too, so had an extra advantage. It felt good out there.
"I'm not expecting to be perfect now but I'm thinking that my game will get better every match. I think the [mixed] doubles will help as well to hone everything. More than anything, I was just so excited to be out there playing and I'm ready to go for it."
Despite health problems that have limited her schedule, Williams is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that the new season presents. "Last year was so awesome for me, getting to the Olympics. I was extremely happy with last year and I moved up quite a few spots," she said. "This year is just about building on it and putting myself into position to play deep into the draws."
Later on Sunday, the French combination of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mathilde Johansson faces Spain's Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues.