Mladenovic beats Bencic keeps France alive

Kristina Mladenovic has kept France alove in the Hopman Cup with a three-set win over Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and the team’s will now slug it out for a spot in the final, against the USA, in the mixed doubles.

Mladenovic beat world No.43 Belinda Bencic 6-4 2-6 6-3 in the women’s singles to level the ledger after Roger Federer earlier blasted Richard Gasquet.

Federer sent down 11 aces in an impressive performance to beat Gasquet 6-1 6-4, 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 minutes.

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.”

Jack Sock and Coco Vandeweghe claimed top spot in Group B earlier in the week to earn a spot in Saturday night’s final of the mixed teams event, where they will play the winners of the now vital mixed doubles match.

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