France sets up final vs. US

France sets up final vs. US

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Kristina Mladenovic of France (R) is congratulated by Belinda Bencic of Switzerland at the Hopman Cup Tennis Tournament in Perth Friday. — AFP
Kristina Mladenovic of France (R) is congratulated by Belinda Bencic of Switzerland at the Hopman Cup Tennis Tournament in Perth Friday. — AFP

PERTH — France will play the United States in the Hopman Cup final after Richard Gasquet and Kristina Mladenovic combined to beat Swiss teammates Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic 4-2, 4-2 in the deciding mixed doubles match Friday.

Federer gave Switzerland an early lead against France in what amounted to a playoff for the final when he beat Gasquet 6-1, 6-4, but Bencic lost to Mladenovic 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

The doubles was played in the Fast4 format of four-game sets, no deuces, and no service lets.

Federer, who is coming back from six months on the sidelines recovering from a knee injury, had three guaranteed singles matches without the pressure of rankings points in the exhibition tournament and was content with his progress in the Hopman Cup. He won two singles matches, and lost the other in three tiebreak sets to Alexander Zverev of Germany.

“It’s the third match into the year so I am starting to feel the ball better and better and I am just moving around the court better,” the 17-time Grand Slam champion said after his win over Gasquet.

“I am happy with where my level is at — I am very pleased that it is already going so well.”

The 35-year-old Federer will head to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 16 and where he’s hoping to end a drought at the majors. He hasn’t won a Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2012.

The United States team of Coco Vandeweghe and Jack Sock secured a place in the final after winning their two opening matches 3-0. The US has won the Hopman Cup a record six times in the tournament’s 28-year history.

In Friday’s other match, Germany beat Britain 2-1 after Zverev and Andrea Petkovic beat Daniel Evans and Heather Watson 4-2, 4-2 in the doubles.

Watson beat Petkovic 6-2, 7-6 (3), coming back from 5-1 down in the second set in the women’s singles. But Zverev leveled for Germany when he beat Evans 6-4, 6-3. — AFP

 

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