Photo: ImagellanAgnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Poland take on Italy in the opening match of the Hyundai Hopman Cup 2014. Poland is the top seed for the event but will be without world No. 21 Jerzy Janowicz after a foot injury forced him to pull out of the event. Poland still have Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No. 5, while Janowicz’s replacement, Grzegorz Panfil, will be out to prove himself, meaning they will be tough to beat.
Italy’s leading lady, Flavia Pennetta, comes into this tournament on a high having won another of the ITF’s team events, Fed Cup, earlier this year. Her partner, Andreas Seppi, is no stranger to playing for his nation either, having played Davis Cup for Italy since 2004. This should be an intriguing opening to the event.
Following that match on Day 1 will be Canada versus Australia. This match features two very strong teams and some of the top young talent from both tours. Canada has taken great pride recently in its development of young tennis talent and their top two players will be on show here in Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard.
Twenty-two-year-old Raonic is ranked No. 11 in the ATP rankings and cracked the Top 10 earlier this year, becoming the first Canadian man to do so in history of the rankings. Nineteen-year-old Bouchard has also had an excellent year. She is currently ranked a career-high No. 32 in the WTA rankings and was awarded the 2013 WTA Newcomer of the Year award.
They take on a very strong Australian side consisting of Bernard Tomic and Samantha Stosur. Tomic is just 21-years-old and is another of the top young players on the tour. He had a hit-and-miss year in 2013, having won his first ATP World Tour title in Sydney in January but only managing to reach the fourth round of one Grand Slam event.
Sam Stosur is currently ranked No. 18 in the WTA rankings. She had a disappointing 2013, finishing outside the Top 10 for the first time since 2009, but had an impressive end to her year, with a title and two runner-up finishes in her last three tournaments. She will be looking to continue that form into 2014.
The first match on Day 2 sees the 2012 champion Czech Republic take on last year’s winner, Spain. Both teams have the same woman playing as they did when they won, Petra Kvitova for the Czechs and Anabel Medina Garrigues for Spain, but they are partnered with different men.
Radek Stepanek will make his Hopman Cup debut for Czech Republic. Stepanek is well-known for his national pride and, last month became the first player to win back-to-back live fifth rubbers in Davis Cup Finals as the Czech Republic retained the prestigious trophy.
Tommy Robredo is the man chosen to lead Spain’s charge for back-to-back titles. Robredo was nominated for the ATP Comeback of the Year award, after improving his ranking from No. 114 at the start of the year to No. 18. He was named APT (Spanish Tennis Writers Association) Player of the Year and became the first man since Henri Cochet in 1921 to come back from two-sets-down in three consecutive Grand Slam matches at 2013 Roland Garros.
The other two teams in the competition are USA and France, who both have strong squads. France boasts the highest-ranked men's player in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga made his Hopman Cup debut last year, winning all three of his singles rubbers, and this year will partner Alize Cornet who qualified for the season-ending WTA Tournament of Champions in Sofia. Cornet was also an integral part of France’s Fed Cup campaign this year.
USA has chosen to mix experience with youth in John Isner and Sloane Stephens. Isner has been involved in Hopman Cup action three times previously, including winning the event in 2011. Stephens is one of the top young players on the WTA tour and is currently ranked No. 12. She excelled in Grand Slam play in 2013, reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open, defeating Serena Williams along the way, as well as a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon and the fourth round at Roland Garros and the US Open.
Single and multiple session tickets are on sale now. Details on tickets and travel packages are available at www.hopmancup.com/tickets.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketek.com.au.
For a full schedule click here.