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Sports Briefs

Published:Thursday | November 20, 2014 | 11:40 PM

Federer to face Monfils

LILLE, France (AP) - Saying he has recovered from a back injury, Roger Federer has the chance to finally win one of the only notable titles missing from his collection.

Federer will play Gael Monfils today in the second singles match as Switzerland takes on France in the final of the Davis Cup. Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka will open the best-of-five series on indoor clay against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in this northern French city.

Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, was doubtful for the final after injuring his back last week during his three-set win over Wawrinka in the semifinals at the ATP finals in London. The injury forced him to pull out of the title match against Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

The doubles tomorrow will pit French pair Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet against Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer.

Man U's Blind faces long spell out

MANCHESTER, England (AP) - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says Daley Blind faces a "long" spell out after the midfielder hurt his left knee playing for the Netherlands in a European Championship qualifier.

Van Gaal said yesterday that Blind's knee is in a brace and that the player will go for a scan after 10 days of rest.

Van Gaal says "it's not so bad as the doctors are thinking after the match, but it shall be a long story, I believe, but not six months or something like that."

Blind was injured in the first half of the Netherlands' 6-0 win over Latvia on Sunday.

Giroud fit for Arsenal

LONDON (AP) - France striker Olivier Giroud is fit after three months out with a broken leg and could make his return for Arsenal in the Premier League match against Manchester United tomorrow.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Giroud has made a quicker-than-expected recovery from a small break to his tibia during the 2-2 draw at Everton on August 23.

Wenger says "originally we planned to have him back for competition at the beginning of next year, so he is one month ahead."

Giroud's return gives Wenger extra options in attack, with Theo Walcott also recently back after a long-term injury.

Wenger says Mathieu Debuchy (ankle) and Laurent Koscielny (Achilles tendon) are still three weeks away from returning from injury.

NZlead by 177in 2nd Test

DUBAI, UAE (AP) - Pakistan spinners polished off New Zealand's top order to leave the Black Caps struggling at 167-6 for an overall lead of 177 runs after Sarfraz Ahmed hit a gallant century in the second Test yesterday.

Ahmed's brilliant 112 with 16 fours lifted Pakistan to 393 on the fourth day as he shared a record 81 runs with Rahat Ali for the last wicket stand and narrowed the Kiwis' lead to just 10 runs.

Zulfiqar Babar (3-60) and Yasir Shah (3-65) exploited the bowler's rough on both ends with some sharp-turning deliveries before Ross Taylor returned to form with an aggressive unbeaten 77 off 93 balls at stumps.

After his three disappointing knocks in the series Taylor dominated against both spinners, hitting 10 boundaries by mostly cutting it through point.

McCullum provided a rapid start of 42 runs before Shah won a contentious decision against first innings century-maker Tom Latham (9).