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Federer wins to put Switzerland in Hopman Cup final

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PERTH, Australia — Roger Federer relied on his trusted serve to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) Thursday and give defending champion Switzerland a spot in the Hopman Cup final.

The victory assured Switzerland’s advancement, but Greece claimed a consolation 2-1 victory when Maria Sakkari beat Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 in women’s singles.

Greece also won the mixed doubles 4-3 (4), 2-4, 4-3 (3) in the Fast4 format.

The 37-year-old Federer’s precision went up against Tsitsipas’ power in the first set of the men’s singles match, and not much separated the two. Eight games were held at love.

“There was very little unforced errors and it was really good quality tennis,” Federer said. “It could have easily gone three sets. For me it is about maintaining a good level of play and I am happy with my game.”

Federer will be going for a record third Hopman Cup title when the Swiss team faces either host Australia or Germany in Saturday’s final.

“I will be excited to watch it tomorrow and see who we play in the final,” Federer said. “This format lends itself to some exciting tennis.”

Federer lost only seven games in wins over Cameron Norrie and Frances Tiafoe but found it tougher in his first match against Tsitsipas.

Federer trailed 4-1 in the first tiebreaker before reeling off consecutive forehand winners to claw back into it. Tsitsipas double-faulted at 5-5 and Federer then won the set with an ace.

The serve continued to dictate play until Federer had break points in the ninth and 11th games but was unable to convert. The 23-time Grand Slam champion, however, raised his game in the tiebreaker with a perfect drop shot to take a 6-3 lead. He closed it out shortly after.

Federer’s appearances at the past two Hopman Cups were followed by Australian Open titles.

Earlier, Serena Williams beat Katie Boulter 6-1, 7-6 (2) to complete an unbeaten Hopman Cup campaign in singles. With daughter Alexis Olympia in attendance, Williams was made to work in the second set before prevailing.

The winless United States, however, lost to Britain 2-1. Norrie upset Tiafoe 7-6 (4), 6-0 in men’s singles and Britain won the mixed doubles 3-4 (2), 4-3 (4), 4-1.

The 37-year-old Williams’ hopes for a record third Hopman Cup title ended when the United States was eliminated after losses to Greece and Switzerland.

Williams has slowly built momentum in her first tournament since the U.S. Open in September as she eyes a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam singles title in Melbourne.

“It was definitely good to play three singles matches here, and the mixed (doubles),” Williams said on-court after her singles match.

The American did not attend a news conference after the match.

Fognini stuns Nadal 6-4, 6-2 to reach Monte Carlo final

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MONACO (AP) Fabio Fognini ended Rafael Nadal’s long winning streak at the Monte Carlo Masters, stunning the defending champion 6-4, 6-2 Saturday to reach the final for the first time and hand Nadal his first defeat here since 2015.

The 13th-seeded Italian had beaten Nadal twice before on clay, and also once at the U.S. Open in five sets, but this was arguably the most impressive.

Not since the 2005 final, a five-setter which Nadal won in four sets, had the 11-time champion Nadal been beaten 6-0 in a set here. And Fognini came so close to doing just that.

He served for the match at 5-0 and 40-0, but Nadal saved three match points – and some pride – by breaking back and then holding.

Serving again for the match at 5-2, Fognini hit a superb forehand down the line to clinch victory on his fourth match point.

Nadal’s last defeat here was also in the semifinals, against Novak Djokovic in 2015. He had not lost a set at the clay-court tournament since conceding one in the second round against Britain’s Kyle Edmund in 2017.

Fognini next plays unseeded Serb Dusan Lajovic in their first-ever meeting, and one few would have predicted happening here.

The 48th-ranked Lajovic earlier staged a remarkable comeback from 5-1 down to beat 10th-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-1.

Lajovic won 10 straight games to open up a 4-0 lead in the second set before Medvedev finally held serve. But after saving one match point, the Russian player tamely hit a return long on his opponent’s next opportunity.

It could have been an all-Serb semifinal but Medvedev knocked out the top-ranked Djokovic in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Saturday’s match started in difficult conditions, with a heavy wind coming in from the Mediterranean.

Serving for the first set at 5-1, Medvedev dropped his serve and remonstrated with himself.

Lajovic clinched the first set on serve, with Medvedev completely mistiming the ball and sending it skyward.

The 28-year-old Lajovic was ill before the tournament and said he needed antibiotics to recover.

He struggled to describe his surprise run.

“Incredible … Unreal,” he said, before settling on “It’s been a great week.”

Lajovic stages comeback to reach Monte Carlo final

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MONACO (AP) Unseeded Serb Dusan Lajovic staged a remarkable comeback from 5-1 down to beat 10th-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-1 in the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals on Saturday.

Lajovic won 10 straight games to open up a 4-0 lead in the second set before Medvedev finally held serve. But after saving one match point, the Russian player tamely hit a return long on his opponent’s next opportunity.

The 48th-ranked Lajovic now plays in his first career final against 11-time champion Rafael Nadal or 13th-seeded Fabio Fognini.

It could have been an all-Serb semi but Medvedev knocked out top-ranked Novak Djokovic in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Saturday’s match started in difficult conditions, with a heavy wind coming in from the Mediterranean blowing clay around the court.

Serving for the set at 5-1, Medvedev dropped his serve and remonstrated with himself.

He had good cause.

The first-set turnaround was complete when Lajovic clinched it on serve, with Medvedev completely mistiming the ball and sending it skyward.