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.Serena Williams from the U.S. reacts during a match against her sister Venus, on the opening day of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)“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.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes Virgil van Dijk’s reported record £75m deal to Liverpool was worth itThe Reds signed Van Dijk in January 2017 from fellow Premier League side Southampton by making him the world’s most expensive defender for £75m.The Netherlands captain has since formed a key part of the Liverpool team that has gone their opening 20 league games of this season undefeated with just eight goals conceded in the process.“He’s an exceptional player,” said Guardiola, according to Evening Standard.“When a player costs whatever it costs and it works, it is well worth it.“When you pay less and it doesn’t work, it is so expensive. If he can play every three days with no injuries and plays consistently, it is well worth it.”Liverpool, who are chasing a first league title since 1990, could take a major step forward in the Premier League title race with victory against City tonight.“We know how important it (the match) is,” added Guardiola.“If we are not able to win, especially if we lose – 10 points, goal difference 11 – if they continue that run it will be so difficult.“It’s almost a final for us. For them, nothing changes.Jose Mourinho is sold on Lampard succeeding at Chelsea Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho wanted to give his two cents on Frank Lampard’s odds as the new Chelsea FC manager, he thinks he will succeed.There really…“If it is different pressure, we have to live it. We have to handle it. Maybe people expected we would always be top, but we are Manchester City, we are not Liverpool or Manchester United.LEICESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 18: Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City applauds fans after his team win the penalty shoot out during the Carabao Cup Quarter Final match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on December 18, 2018 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)“We are Man City. In that situation, it is quite usual in history. That is why it is nice after what we have achieved in the last decade to still be up there.“My feeling is last season it was a little bit easier to maintain that hunger because 80 per cent of the players had not won anything in our lives.“I can feel what they feel, the Liverpool players. After 29 years not winning the Premier League, to be there to win the Premier League. I understand. And I said to the players, that it’s difficult to handle that.“I know what happened after Chelsea and Leicester won the league, the year after was tough.“We’ve avoided that we’ve got a lot of points, we are fighting, but the opponents have been incredible.“We don’t play every week against Liverpool, that’s why we have to focus when we drop.“During the season we won a lot of things, you forget what you have to do, we’ve done exceptional, we are there, we have a lot of games to go and I think everyone will lose points, even Liverpool.“There are a lot of competitions, a lot of targets and every game will be tough, we’ll see what happens in the future.”The City and Liverpool match will take place at the Etihad Stadium with kick-off set for 21:00 (CET).