France will meet the USA in Saturday night’s final of the Hopman Cup after it won a deciding Fast4 mixed doubles match to claim the tie against top seed Switzerland at Perth Arena on Friday night.
Because of results earlier in the week, the tie had developed into a semi-final for Pool A in the mixed team event, with the victor going on to the final.
The US team of Jack Sock and Coco Vandeweghe had already dominated Group B to earn a spot in the playoff and a chance of claiming a record seventh title.
After splitting the singles matches, France made light work of the mixed doubles. Richard Gasquet and Kristina Mladenovic beat Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic 4-2 4-2 in 34 minutes.
Earlier, Federer sent down 11 aces in an impressive performance to beat Gasquet 6-1 6-4 and get Switzerland off to the perfect start.
But Mladenovic, ranked 42, then beat world No.43 Belinda Bencic 6-4 2-6 6-3 in the women’s singles clash to level the ledger.
Federer made lighter work of Gasquet, claiming victory in just 56 minutes.
He earned a break point against the Frenchman, ranked 18 in the world, in each of his first three service games.
He couldn’t convert the first, but did the second to take a 3-1 lead. He consolidated that break with a service game to love.
The Swiss champ needed three chances to break a second time and took a 5-1 advantage before closing out the opening set in 26 min.
Federer broke Gasquet’s serve again early in the second set to set up victory.
The former world No.1, returning after a six-month lay-off due to a knee injury, said he couldn’t be happier with how he feels.
“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, so I am really pleased,” he said.
“I don’t know if today was my best match, or yesterday, but you have to be able to handle different opponents and I am happy with where my level is at.
“I was uncertain (coming into the week); I didn’t know how it was going to go.
“I am very pleased that it is already going so well.”