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Tennis: France on track for Hopman Cup final

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The French pairing of Alize Cornet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga closed in on a Hopman Cup final berth with a 2-1 win over the United States in the Group B tie at the mixed teams tournament on Wednesday.

Unbeaten after their first two ties, the French only need to beat winless Spain on Friday to advance to Saturday's final.

The French clinched the tie in the mixed doubles rubbers, after the singles matches were split.

Cornet and Tsonga edged past Sloane Stephens and John Isner 6-1, 5-7, 10-5 in a match tiebreak.

France have never won the Hopman Cup, having twice finished runners-up.

In the women's singles, rising star Stephens powered past the 27th-ranked Cornet, 7-5, 6-0.

The first set was extremely closely fought, with Cornet recovering from an early break to level at 5-5 after Stephens was unable to serve out the set.

However, Cornet was then broken in her last four service games of the match as the 20-year-old Stephens took total control.

Stephens was happy with the way she coped with the defensive skills of Cornet.

"She gets to a lot of balls and playing someone like that is really tough," she said.

"I was trying to stay aggressive and play my game...I just tried to stay tough and stay with my patterns and it worked pretty well today."

Tsonga, ranked 10th in the world, said his best tennis was still ahead of him after beating Isner in straight sets, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.

The former Australian Open finalist has been ranked as high as fifth, but the 28-year-old battled knee problems last year.

Although he made the semi-finals at the French Open, he was forced to retire in the second round at Wimbledon and missed the US Open.

Tsonga said he was back to full fitness and still capable of taking his game to higher levels.

"Yeah, I think I can," he said.

"I stay confident, I didn't have a lot of luck with injury last year.

"I was hitting really well and this year it's another story.. I'm sure I'm stronger this year."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140101/tennis-france-track-hopman-cup-final