Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Federer unable to stop French advance


tiamin rice

Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a return against Richard Gasquet of France during their twelth session men’s singles match on day six of the Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth on January 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO /

A singles masterclass from Swiss champion Roger Federer wasn’t enough to stop the French pairing of Richard Gasquet and Kristina Mladenovic winning through to the Hopman Cup final on Friday.

Federer’s comeback from injury gained momentum when he produced a flawless performance to beat Gasquet in the men’s singles, but it was the French who won the tie 2-1.

Mladenovic squared the tie with a three-set win over Belinda Bencic, before the French claimed the deciding mixed doubles.

The French will face the United States team of Jack Sock and Coco Vandeweghe on Saturday.

After being beaten by young gun Alexander Zverev in his previous singles match, Federer bounced back to thrash the 18th-ranked Gasquet in straight sets in under an hour.

The Hopman Cup is Federer’s first tournament since a six-month layoff due to knee and back injuries.

The 35-year-old entered 2017 ranked 16th — his lowest placing since 2001 – but in brushing aside Gasquet showed he was again ready to be a serious contender at the Australian Open, starting a week from Monday.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion barely missed a groundstroke, getting his first break of serve in the fourth game of the match and dominating proceedings from that point on.

He also sent down 11 aces in nine service games, winning 6-1, 6-4 in 56 minutes.

Gasquet had been in good touch heading into the match, beating Zverev and Dan Evans, both in straight sets.

Even Federer was a little stunned by his own form.

“It was completely different from the previous two,” he said.

“Today was great, I started to feel the ball better and better and just moving around the court better.

“I am surprised how well I am playing already.

“I couldn’t be more happy right now.”

Three matches into his comeback, Federer said his body was feeling great.

“Today is the best I have felt since I have arrived and that is super encouraging.”

Gasquet admitted Federer was simply too good.

“He played unbelievable,” Gasquet said.

In the women’s singles, Mladenovic played her best match of the week to level the tie by beating the in-form Bencic 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

France has won the Hopman Cup once, while the United States has claimed the title six times.

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