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France look for another upset against USA

France will go into the Hopman Cup final against the USA on Saturday night as rank underdogs, but Richard Gasquet and Kristina Mladenovic remain confident after beating top seed Switzerland to reach the final.Mladenovic, ranked 42 in the world, has beaten Coco Vandeweghe (ranked 37) just once in five attempts, in Wuhan, China last September.And despite enjoying a higher ranking than Jack Sock (23), Gasquet (ranked 18) has not beaten the American in three clashes.”He is a great player and will be very good in the future and make the top five and win a grand slam,” Gasquet said of his opponent.A 6-1 6-4 dismantling at the hands of Roger Federer aside, Gasquet is in solid form. While he lost to Federer, he previously notched wins over Dan Evans of Great Britain (6-4 6-2) and German young gun Alexander Zverev (7-5 6-3).Mladenovic won three-setters against Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) and Heather Watson (GB), but lost to Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.And while she admits the French pair didn’t expect to make the final, they give themselves every chance of winning it.”We had a tough group and we’re not especially expecting to make the final,” Mladenovic said. “I am sad we beat Switzerland because I wanted to watch Roger tomorrow again.”Every time we go out on the court, we like to do our best and try to get the win and so far we have done great.”The French pair won all three of their mixed doubles outings, played for the first time at the event in the Fast4 format, in straight sets.The US, who already has a record six titles in the mixed team tournament, dropped only one match in reaching the final, Vandeweghe losing a three-setter to Australia’s Daria Gavrilova. The pair, at the event for the first time, notched wins this week over the Czech Republic (Lucie Hradecka and Adam Pavlasek), Australia (Nick Kyrgios and Gavrilova) and Spain (Lara Arruabarrena and Feliciano Lopez).France has won the Hopman Cup once in 12 attempts, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alize Cornet beating Poland in 2014.Gasquet is the only player in Saturday’s final to have played the event before, when he and Marion Bartoli lost to the Czech Republic pair of Tomas Berdych and Petra Kvitova in the 2012 final.

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