France clinched the top spot in Group A of the 2017 Hopman Cup on Friday after coming from behind to defeat Roger Federer's Switzerland 2-1 in their final fixture of the tournament's opening stage.
The Swiss impressed in defeating Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-4, but he failed to put the finishing touches on a 2-1 victory in the mixed doubles after France's Kristina Mladenovic beat Belinda Bencic 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
France will now face the United States in Saturday's final after Jack Sock and CoCo Vandeweghe helped the Americans seal first place in Group B, where they defeated hosts Australia, Spain and the Czech Republic.
Also on Friday, Great Britain's run in Perth came to an end as Heather Watson's 6-2, 7-6 (3) win over Andrea Petkovic wasn't enough to prevent a 2-1 loss to Germany. Daniel Evans fell to Sascha Zverev in straight sets before being beaten 4-2, 4-2 in mixed doubles to bow out of the Perth contest at the bottom of Group A.
Saturday's final will begin at 4 p.m. AWST (8 a.m. GMT/3 a.m. ET), per the official Hopman Cup website, meaning an early start for any viewers watching from abroad.
Read on for a breakdown of Friday's results as Gasquet and Mladenovic ensured France will have a chance at challenging for what would be their second Hopman Cup title in three years.
|2017 Hopman Cup Results: Friday's Group A Scores|
|France 2-1 Switzerland||Score|
|Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) def. Belinda Bencic (SUI)||6-4, 2-6, 6-3|
|Roger Federer (SUI) def. Richard Gasquet (FRA)||6-1, 6-4|
|Richard Gasquet/Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) def. Roger Federer/Belinda Bencic (SUI)||4-2, 4-2|
|Germany 2-1 Great Britain||Score|
|Heather Watson (GBR) def. Andrea Petkovic (GER)||6-2, 6-7(3)|
|Sascha Zverev (GER) def. Dan Evans (GBR)||6-4, 6-3|
|Andrea Petkovic/Sascha Zverev (GER) def. Heather Watson/Dan Evans (GBR)||4-2, 4-2|
Federer began his Friday outing in ferocious fashion after downing Gasquet in their singles meeting, where even a pick-up in form from the Frenchman during the second set wasn't enough to salvage a result.
It took the Swiss just under an hour to complete his rout of Gasquet in what Jose Morgado of Portuguese newspaper Record referred to as a highlight performance of the tournament thus far:
José Morgado @josemorgado
Federer d. Gasquet 6-1, 6-4 in 56 minutes. By far his best match of the week. Very impressive. [getty] https://t.co/9ymuIO5eHz2017-1-6 10:32:30
Bencic couldn't follow her compatriot's lead in her singles outing against Mladenovic, however, and she conceded a loss despite launching an impressive comeback attempt midway through their meeting.
The 19-year-old Swiss lost a crucial break of serve at 3-2 down in the third set, but even saving two match points in a 17-point game at 5-2 down couldn't prevent Mladenovic from forcing a decider in the doubles, per Live Tennis:
Federer couldn't come to his side's rescue alongside Bencic, however, as the combined might of Gasquet and Mladenovic proved too strong for their Swiss counterparts.
The French rarely looked out of canter on their own serve and ran away with a doubles victory to snatch the top spot in Group A at the last hurdle, booking their place in Saturday's Perth final as a result.
Earlier in the day, Watson picked up her first win of the year with a win over Petkovic, who lost six of the last seven games in the match as her opponent completed an almighty comeback.
Watson must have heard tennis writer Chris Goldsmith bemoan the Briton's inability to build on a rampaging win in the opening set and launched a tremendous revival as she broke her opponent's serve three times in the second:
Chris Goldsmith @TheTennisTalker
Is the phrase 'straight sets' even mentioned in the Heather Watson coaching manual? 6-2 1-5 against Andrea Petkovic2017-1-6 03:05:18
That win gave Great Britain the start to events they needed, but a classy display from Zverev ensured their buoyant mood was short-lived.
Just two days after shocking a certain Swiss legend 7-6 (1), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), the German wonderkid didn't show any signs of fatigue as he completed a fairly routine win over Evans, per the Hopman Cup:
Hopman Cup @hopmancup
Alexander Zverev picks up against Dan Evans where he left off against Roger Federer: winning. He downs the Brit 6-4 6-3 to level the tie https://t.co/qwI2wqogvI2017-1-6 05:19:51
Zverev, 19, maintained that same pace in the doubles and teamed up alongside Petkovic to down their British foes in an impressive time of just 38 minutes.
Watson and Evans head home having failed to come out on the winning side in any of their three head-to-heads at the 2017 Hopman Cup, while Germany can savour their two victories in Perth.