Serena Williams started her season with a win at the 2019 Hopman Cup on Monday, although it wasn't enough for the United States to get the better of Greece.
Williams was able to overcome Maria Sakkari in straight sets in Perth to level the match up, with Stefanos Tsitsipas beating her United States team-mate Frances Tiafoe in three sets earlier in the day.
It meant the result hinged on the mixed doubles showdown, and despite taking the lead, Williams and Tiafoe were eventually well beaten.
The clash was the only match on Monday ahead of the New Year. The United States will be the next team in action on Tuesday, as they face defending champions Switzerland in the solitary encounter of the day.
Greece 2-1 United States
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) bt. Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3
Serena Williams (USA) bt. Maria Sakkari (GRE) 7-6(3), 6-2
Sakkari/Tsitsipas (GRE) bt. Williams/Tiafoe 1-4, 4-1, 4-2
United States (Tiafoe and Williams) vs. Switzerland (Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic)
Following a shock loss to Cameron Norrie of Great Britain in his first match of the competition, this was a chance for Tsitsipas to rediscover some rhythm in his second outing.
The world No. 15 was never likely to have things completely his own way against rising star Tiafoe, though, as the American youngster has made rapid strides as of late. Unsurprisingly, a tight encounter ensued between these two starlets.
At times, both men were struggling to keep their feet in what was an intense tie:
After sharing the first two sets, it was eventually the Greek who emerged as the stronger player in the decider.
Despite a serious match, Tsitsipas was in a typically relaxed mood afterwards ahead of the mixed doubles:
Williams was the star attraction on the day, and after an edgy opening set, she was able to move through the gears to get the better of Sakkari.
The American, who was playing for the first time since her controversial loss to Naomi Osaka in the U.S. Open final, broke at a crucial point in the opening stanza with her opponent serving for the match.
From there, she won the tiebreak and started to discover her swagger:
"It's great to be back out in match day, and it's great to be back out here," Williams said after the win, per the Australian Associated Press (h/t the tournament website). "I love playing in Australia. Some of my best memories are here. It was my first match back (today), she played unbelievable. Maria is super young and such a good player."
It meant the mixed doubles would decide the match, and having taken the first mini-set 4-1, the United States appeared on course to start with a win. However, they faded as the contest wore on, with the Greek duo registering their first win in Perth.
New Year's Day will see a treat for those in attendance, with Williams and Roger Federer—arguably the two finest players of all time—squaring off in mixed doubles.