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France-Belgium 2-2 in Davis Cup final after Goffin wins

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LILLE, France (AP) David Goffin kept alive Belgium’s hopes of winning its first Davis Cup title by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-2 in the first reverse singles match on Sunday to level the final at 2-2.

Goffin, who also won his opening singles without dropping a set, delivered a superb performance to defeat France’s top player.

Belgium’s Steve Darcis will be up against Lucas Pouille in the final match. Darcis has won all five decisive matches he has played in the Davis Cup so far.

Tsonga served extremely well in the first set and had six chances to break Goffin, but his Belgian rival weathered some blistering groundstrokes and showed nerves of steel on important points.

Goffin saved a set point with a forehand winner at 6-5 and sealed the tiebreaker on his first chance, with a backhand winner down the line.

“I missed several chances in the first set, I should have been more opportunistic,” Tsonga said. “After, it was complicated, he played more relaxed and there was not much I could do.”

The seventh-ranked Goffin broke for a 4-2 lead in the second set after Tsonga double faulted, and broke twice in the third set after pressuring the Frenchman into many mistakes.

Goffin has been in terrific form recently and was runner-up at the ATP Finals last week in London, where he defeated both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Despite fatigue and an ailing knee, Goffin carried his London form into the northern French city of Lille, where he demolished Pouille on Friday before Tsonga leveled at 1-1 with a straight-set win over Darcis. The French won Saturday’s doubles.

Goffin treated the raucous Belgian fans to some stunning shots, and effectively ended Tsonga’s resistance early in the second set when he saved another break point with a fine drop-shot volley. Goffin then hit a big serve and an ace to stay in control.

Tsonga, who received treatment on his neck after the opening set, looked more and more discouraged as the match progressed and made two straight unforced errors to trail 4-1 in the third set.

Tsonga and France captain Yannick Noah were furious at deuce in the sixth game when umpire James Keothavong refused to allow a video challenge. Tsonga thought Goffin’s shot was out – and stopped playing – but he failed to raise his hand to signal the ball was out.

The match resumed after several minutes amid boos and whistles from the crowd. Tsonga saved two match points in the seventh game but could not prevent Goffin from closing out the match on his next service game.

Two-time champ Azarenka gets Australian Open wild card

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wild card for the Australian Open.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been involved in a custody dispute involving her son Leo, who was born last Dec. 19.

She hasn’t competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. The dispute with her former partner started shortly after Wimbledon ended.

Azarenka has played only six matches this year and is ranked 208th.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday that every assistance would be provided to the former No. 1, adding “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.”

The Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”