Swiss lose to France despite Federer brilliance
January 06 2017 10:40 PM
federer
Roger Federer

Reuters/Perth

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 yesterday.
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.
The Hopman Cup is the 35-year-old Federer’s first tournament since a six-month layoff due to knee and back injuries. He entered 2017 ranked 16th—his lowest placing since 2001—but in brushing aside Gasquet he showed he was ready to be a serious contender at the Australian Open.
“It’s only the beginning, hopefully many more matches to come. I’m just very pleased to be on a centre court. I did enjoy the last six months out, I enjoyed the last 18 years playing, so I’ll stay around for a little bit long, if I can,” the Swiss ace said.
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.
Gasquet had been in good touch heading into the match, beating Zverev and Dan Evans, both in straight sets.
Federer won the trophy at the eight-nation mixed team event in 2001 with Martina Hingis and returned to play a year later, his last appearance in West Australia.
 Germany earlier beat Britain 2-1, with Alexander Zverev and Andrea Petkovic taking a valuable week’s worth of matches into the Australian Open. Heather Watson, playing for a third edition, started by defeating Petkovic 6-2, 7-6 (7-3). Young gun Zverev, who had beaten Federer earlier in the week, levelled 1-1 as he stopped Dan Evans 6-4, 6-3. The tie came down to the hybrid FAST4 mixed doubles, with Petkovic leading her teenaged teammate to the 4-2, 4-2 win which clinched it.
 “My singles today was a totally different match from when I played Federer,” Zverev said. “Today I got the win and I’m very happy with that.”
 The Germans admitted they still have to work to do if they are ever to get used to the experimental mixed format, which speeds up play considerably by eliminating adds, lets and tiebreaks as the first to four points wins a set. “In the first two mixed rubbers we were not shining at all, it was all going so fast,” Petkovic said. “We were forgetting the lets.” Zverev added: “It’s all so new to me.”



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