Modern professional tennis is dominated by individual events, where men and women compete to enhance their earnings from the game while team events are few and far in between. The most prestigious global team event is the Davis Cup, where men play for the honor of their countries. The equivalent event for women is the Fed Cup. Australia’s Hopman Cup is the third such major team event, where both men and women participate on behalf of their nations. With ATP and WTP having expanded over time, top players usually don’t have too much time for these three team events. As a result, participation of top-ranked players in Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup has declined over the years. This was not the case a couple of decades earlier and top tennis stars were only too willing to play in team events. Regardless, these tournaments have not lost their importance. Take the case of Davis Cup, in which Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have recently worked hard and succeeded in ensuring their nations’ victories. The Hopman Cup also attracts the top eight pairs every year from countries around the world. The 2017 Hopman Cup, which gets underway on January 1, 2017 is in its 29th edition and the atmosphere in Perth is abuzz with the news of Roger Federer’s come back after 15 years. Other nations participating in 2017 Hopman Cup are Australia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and USA.
Though the Hopman Cup is not financially attractive to most top-ranked participants, it has still been able to enlist more than 20 former world no.1 players over the years. Some all-time greats to grace the Hopman Cup include; John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Yannick Noah, Mats Wilander, Pat Cash, Boris Becker, Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Steffi Graf, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams. Most players find their participation in Hopman Cup as an entertaining and relaxing way of starting the new season with the year’s first Grand Slam only a few days away. It was a great preparation for Djokovic in 2011, who won his three Hopman Cup singles before also registering a win at Melbourne Park.
Roger Federer’s first appearance in 2001 Hopman Cup ended fruitfully with Switzerland winning at Perth. Federer’s partner was none other than Martina Hingis, who had ruled women’s tennis for a number of years. In 2002, Federer came back to Hopman Cup with a new partner Miroslava Vavrincova but Switzerland failed to qualify for the final. Miroslava is now the wife of Federer and she is more famously known as Mirka Federer after her marriage to Federer in 2009. Federer didn’t play in Hopman Cup since 2002 and his comeback after 15 years is being eagerly awaited. This year, Federer will play with 19-year old world no.43 Belinda Bencic. Last year’s winners Nick Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova are yet again fancied to win for the second year in a row but they could face stiff competition from Czech Republic, Spain and USA in their Group B. the Group A has Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain and France. If Bencic could show her form of early 2016, Switzerland could finish the winners in their Group.
From this year, mixed doubles matches in Hopman Cup will be based on the new Fast-Four format. In the new concept, lets are allowed, advantage scores are dispensed with, tiebreaks apply at 3-3 and the first player to reach the score of 5 in tiebreaks wins the set. The set can also be won if someone scores the first four points. These rules have been proposed by Tennis Australia, based on advice from Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt in January 2015. The shortened format is designed to enhance the speed of the matches. In the other news, 2017 Hopman Cup has roped in Mastercard as the chief sponsor and the event is named as 2017 Mastercard Hopman Cup.
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