Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Hyundai Hopman Cup has grown each year and serves as an important warm-up tournament ahead of the Australian Open. Here’s a quick look at the man who inspired the event’s creation and a preview of the 2013 field.
Who Was Harry Hopman?
Harry Hopman was a noted Australian player and tennis coach. He won multiple doubles titles at the Australian Championships in the 1920′s and 1930′s and won a mixed doubles championship at the U.S. Nationals in 1939. Though he played for Australia on their Davis Cup team numerous times, it was when he served as Captain that he truly earned his place as one of the greats of his country. Hopman coached Australia to 16 Davis Cup titles from 1939 to 1967, an accomplishment that many consider one of the biggest achievements in the whole sport.
Hopman eventually moved to the United States in the early 1970′s where he founded a tennis academy. He coached numerous junior players, most notably John McEnroe who credits Hopman with helping form his trademark serve and volley game. Hopman was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1978.
Hopman Cup – Creation and Format
A trio of Australian players including Pat Cash, Charlie Fancutt and Paul McNamee decided in 1984 that they wanted to honor Hopman’s achievements with a special event. Since Hopman won several mixed doubles titles, they decided on a mixed team format featuring players from different countries.
Though Hopman himself passed away in 1985, Mrs. Lucy Hopman gave her blessing for the event to be held. 1989 marked the inaugural year that the Hopman Cup was held at Perth’s Burswood Superdome. Czechoslovakia’s Helena Sukova and Miroslav Mecir won the first title.
Featuring a round robin format, eight teams are divided into groups and compete against each other via one men’s singles match, one women’s singles match and one mixed doubles match. Teams are seeded based on the ATP and WTA rankings of each player but the groups are evenly balanced to ensure that no one group has better players than the other. The entire event is overseen by the ITF and though this year’s Hopman Cup has a $1 million total prize money purse, players do not receive ranking points for any matches that they win.
History and Milestones
Over the years, the event has attracted some of the sport’s biggest stars while also increasing both its attendance records and worldwide television audience. Steffi Graf, Justine Henin, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis are some of the prominent WTA players who have competed there while Roger Federer, Andy Murray, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Mats Wilander and more from the ATP contended for the trophy.
The U.S. has won the most titles with six overall and have also finished as runners-up four times. Slovakia and Spain are tied at second with three titles each while the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland have each won two titles.
Several innovations in both scoring and officiating that were first tested during the Hopman Cup soon were adopted into the professional game. In 2002, a match tie-break was used to determine the final set of the mixed doubles. 2006 saw the first use of the Hawk-Eye challenge system that was later approved by the ITF for use in pro events.
2013 Hopman Cup Field
Eight teams make up the 2013 Hopman Cup lineup. Group A features the No. 1 seeds Serbia featuring Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic. They are followed by No. 3 seeds Italy (Andreas Seppi and Francesca Schiavone), No. 5 seeds Germany (Tommy Haas and Andrea Petkovic), and No. 8 seeds Australia (Ash Barty and Bernard Tomic).
Group B is led by the second seeded U.S. team featuring Venus Williams and John Isner. This group also includes No.4 seed Spain (Anabel Medina Garrigues and Fernando Verdasco), No. 6. seeds South Africa (Kevin Anderson and Chanelle Scheepers) and No. 7 seed France (Mathilde Johansson and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga).
Though Serbia are heavy favorites, especially since Djokovic won all three of his singles matches at the event in 2011 before he went on to win the Melbourne title, the U.S. and Germany are also considered contenders.
For players such as Venus Williams and Petkovic who are both on the comeback trail after battling health issues last season, the event will give them a chance to get in three singles matches before they head for the Australian Open. This will also be the first time Tsonga will be in action after the Frenchman recently signed on Roger Rasheed to be his new coach.
The event will also have Australia Bernard Tomic playing in front of a home crowd after he ended last season embroiled in yet another incident involving local authorities.
For a complete schedule of this year’s event, visit www.hopmancup.com