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Federer helps Switzerland take lead over Russia
January 03, 2018
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PERTH: Roger Federer continued preparation for his Australian Open title defense with a 6-3, 7-6 (8) win over Karen Khachanov at the Hopman Cup, helping give Switzerland a 2-0 win over Russia.

Federer’s playing partner Belinda Bencic beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a later women’s singles match on Tuesday to give Switzerland their second consecutive win in Group B.

The 36-year-old Federer had his service broken by the 21-year-old Khachanov in the opening game, but rebounded to break back immediately and won the opening set in 29 minutes.

Khachanov matched Federer impressively with backhand winners in the second set before a back-and-forth tiebreaker. Federer saved a set point in the tiebreaker and won on his third match point after a successful challenge.

“I had to work hard, experience helps sometime,” said Federer, who beat Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final last year. “It’s good to be free-swinging and young, like he is. I remember those days ...”

The win came before a record crowd of 13,943 at Perth Arena, an attendance which eclipsed one of Federer’s matches last year in the Western Australia state capital.

Earlier, the United States beat Japan 2-1 after an illness withdrawal by one of the Japanese players. But the win may come at a cost after Jack Sock injured his hip.

Sock slipped on the court during the first set of his match against Yuichi Sugita, grabbing his hip. He was forced to retire at 1-1 in the second set after losing the first set 7-6 (1).

Hopman Cup director Paul Kilderry said he thinks Sock will be OK for the unbeaten US team’s important third game.

“He has had some treatment on it and he feels he’ll be good to go,” Kilderry said. “He said if felt uncomfortable out there, so I think he was just a little nervous about doing more damage.”

The US team had already led 1-0 after Japan’s female player, Naomi Osaka, withdrew with an unspecified illness, handing CoCo Vandeweghe a 6-0, 6-0 win.

The Americans were also awarded the Fast4 mixed doubles match 4-0, 4-0 because Osaka was not able to compete.

Osaka’s place in both matches was taken by 19-year-old local player Maddison Inglis, who was woken up at 8:30 a.m. by tournament officials who told her she would be required to play.

The US and Switzerland play on Thursday in a match that will decide which team advances from the group to Saturday’s final.

“Thursday night is a sellout,” Kilderry said. “He (Sock) is confident he’ll be fine.”

In Group A matches on Wednesday, Canada plays Germany and Australia takes on Belgium. Australia beat Canada and Germany defeated Belgium in the opening round.

Sock joins a long list of leading men’s players with injury concerns heading into the year’s first Grand Slam, including number one Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic.

With Osaka ruled out, local 19-year-old Inglis, ranked 771st, was given the daunting task of facing world number 10 Vandeweghe.

“She played really well and was a tough opponent, it’s not easy to come out at the last minute,” Vandeweghe said after winning 7-5, 6-2.

“She made it difficult and I didn’t make it easy for myself either.”

The Americans beat Russia 2-1 on Sunday and are seeking to reach the final for the second successive year, having been beaten by the French team of Kristina Mladenovic and Richard Gasquet in last year’s decider.


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