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Mladenovic, Gasquet give France second Hopman Cup title

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PERTH, Australia — Kristina Mladenovic and Richard Gasquet clinched France’s second Hopman Cup title, beating Americans CoCo Vandeweghe and Jack Sock 4-1, 4-3 in the deciding mixed doubles match in the tournament final on Saturday.

Earlier, Vandeweghe beat Mladenovic 6-4, 7-5 after Gasquet saved a match point in the third-set tiebreaker and held on for a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (6) win over Sock to give France the early lead in the exhibition tournament.

The mixed doubles was played under the Fast4 format of four-game sets, no deuces and a five-point tiebreaker when sets are tied at 3. France shut out the American team in the second-set tiebreaker 5-0.

The French pair had defeated Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in the deciding mixed doubles on Friday night to advance to the final.

The U.S. has won the Hopman Cup a record six times in the tournament’s 29-year history.

“I was just trying to keep the team alive, that’s the whole concept out here,” Vandeweghe said after saving break points in two consecutive service games in the second set to send the final to the mixed doubles decider.

Sock broke Gasquet’s service in the 11th game of the deciding set of the opening men’s singles, helped by Gasquet’s double-fault on break point. But Gasquet came back to break Sock in the next game and send it to a tiebreaker.

Gasquet said he didn’t panic when he faced a match point.

“I tried to focus on myself and be tough mentally,” Gasquet said. “It’s very difficult. I know him very well. He’s a great friend of mine. But on the court, it doesn’t count.”

The men’s match lasted 2 1/2 hours.

“I let it slip away at the end,” Sock said. “I was holding fairly comfortably for a while. So when I got the break I felt pretty good about it. And then later when I had the match point, I played way too tentatively.”

Organizers announced earlier Saturday that the tournament would remain in the Western Australian state capital for at least the next five years. The state government extended its contract with the International Tennis Federation and Tennis Australia to host the exhibition event at Perth Arena until at least 2022.

Raonic withdraws from Miami Open with hamstring injury

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Milos Raonic has pulled out of the Miami Open after aggravating a right hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly a month.

The No. 3-seeded Raonic withdrew before Sunday’s match against American qualifier Jared Donaldson, who advanced to the fourth round.

Raonic said his injury became progressively worse after his opening match, his first since Feb. 25. He expects to be sidelined at least two weeks and perhaps longer.

The Canadian said he hasn’t made it through an entire tournament healthy since Wimbledon last July.

Nadal advances to start bid for first Key Biscayne

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Rafael Nadal’s first fist pump Friday followed his second point in the Miami Open, when he kissed a forehand off the sideline to win a long rally.

He accompanied the celebratory gesture with a skip in his step and then hit the accelerator, holding every service game to beat Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4.

Thus began Nadal’s latest bid to win Key Biscayne.

“A lot of big motivation,” he said.

He’s playing the tournament for the 13th time and has never won it, although he was the runner-up in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014. At 0 for 12, it’s Nadal’s longest drought at any event, and perhaps the most glaring gap in the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s resume.

Does it bug him? He won’t admit to any frustration, but lets slip that he still remembers the exact score when he was two points from the title in the third set versus Novak Djokovic.

That was six years ago.

“Against Novak – 6-5, 15-30,” Nadal said. “It didn’t happen.”

The Spaniard has always enjoyed the atmosphere in Miami, where Latin fans give him enthusiastic support, and he likes the tournament’s hard courts. He’s simply overdue.

“I’m trying my best every year,” Nadal told the stadium crowd after dispatching Sela. “I’ve been very close four times. I will try to give myself another chance.”

Nadal is 15-4 this year and pleased with his play. He lost to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, and again in the fourth round at Indian Wells last week.

Against Sela, Nadal served well, erased the only two break points he faced and overcame the occasional errant groundstroke on a windy afternoon.

“It was very difficult to find the right feelings,” Nadal said. “These kind of days, what you have to do is try to win. That’s what I did, and I’m happy with that.”

Making Nadal’s title bid easier will be the absence of six-time champion Djokovic and two-time champion Andy Murray, both out with elbow injuries.

But No. 3-seeded Milos Raonic is back. He won in his first match since Feb. 25, beating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5. Raonic had been sidelined by a right leg injury.

“I’ve prepared the best I can for this tournament,” Raonic said. “I’m not necessarily in the best position right now, but fortunately it’s a long tournament. Doesn’t mean things can’t change and I can’t get better throughout this event.”

No. 2 Kei Nishikori beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3. No. 7 Marin Cilic lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

In women’s play, Elena Vesnina made a quick exit only five days after winning the biggest title of her career. Seeded 13th, Vesnina lost her opening match to wild card Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Vesnina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Indian Wells final.

In a match that took two days because of rain, No. 6 Garbine Muguruza rallied past Christina McHale 0-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4. No. 3 Simona Halep beat Naomi Osaka 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. American qualifier Taylor Townsend eliminated No. 25 Robert Vinci 6-3, 6-2.