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    Roger Federer powers Switzerland past Italy and into Davis Cup final against France

    Sep 15, 2014
    Swiss master Roger Federer scores a straight sets victory over Italy’s Fabio Fognini. AP

    ROGER Federer and Stan Wawrinka each have Grand Slam singles titles, and Olympic gold together in doubles. Now they've got the chance to win Switzerland's first Davis Cup.

    Federer carried Switzerland to its first final in 22 years, beating Fabio Fognini, 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (4), in the opening reverse singles Sunday for a winning 3-1 lead over Italy and into a Nov. 21-23 decider against France, which beat the defending champion Czech Republic, 4-1.

    "It's fabulous to share in this moment," said Federer, who was hoisted on the shoulders of Wawrinka and captain Severin Luethi for a lap of honor around the court to the delight of a noisy 18,000-plus crowd at Palexpo indoor arena.

    Switzerland reached the final only once before, losing in 1992 against a United States team of Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras.

    "It's nice that we are going to have the opportunity to do something very special at the end of the year," Federer said.

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    Federer, who has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles, was intrigued to see if the French will use home-team advantage to opt for clay or hard courts, potentially in Lille.

    The French are setting their sights on a first Davis Cup title since 2001, and know Federer presents a big obstacle to that.

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    "Federer is a monument of tennis, this is a dream final," Richard Gasquet said. Gael Monfils wrapped up the contest a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Lukas Rosol on Sunday after Jiri Vesely salvaged some pride for the two-time defending champion Czechs by beating Julien Benneteau, 6-4, 6-3, in a consolation win in the first reverse singles.

    "There is no need for motivation when you are in the final, but hosting Federer adds an extra something to a sumptuous final," Benneteau said.

    France booked its place in the final on Saturday when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gasquet won the doubles to give the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead.

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    Also on the weekend, the United States, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada and Croatia won playoffs to qualify for the 2015 World Group. The World Group playoff losers — Colombia, Israel, Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine and Uzbekistan — will be relegated to zone group competitions in 2015.

    The World Group playoff between Serbia and India will be decided on Monday after the fifth and decisive singles match was suspended because of rain on the weekend.

    Filip Krajinovic was leading 6-3, 4-4 against India's 22-year-old Yuki Bhambri when play was stopped.

    Serbia, playing without Novak Djokovic, led 2-0 after the opening singles before Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna won the doubles on Saturday to begin India's comeback and Somdev Devvarman made it 2-2 with a 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, victory over Dusan Lajovic.

    Brazil took an unassailable 3-1 lead over Spain when Thomaz Bellucci defeated Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, on Sunday, dropping the five-time champions to the zone groups for the first time since 1996.

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    Spain, playing without Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, went into reverse singles trailing 2-1 and needed to win both matches to keep its spot in the World Group next year.

    "This is one of the greatest moments of my career," the 83rd-ranked Bellucci said. "It's a great moment for Brazilian tennis and it comes at the right time. We showed our value today."

    The United States swept Slovakia 5-0 to extend a streak in the top tier that began in 1989, and Australia swept Uzbekistan 5-0 in Perth.

    Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer won singles matches Sunday to help Argentina rally past Israel 3-2. The Canada vs. Colombia, Croatia vs. Netherlands and Belgium vs. Ukraine all finished 3-2.

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    Swiss master Roger Federer scores a straight sets victory over Italy’s Fabio Fognini. AP
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