Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hopman Cup lauds 'strongest field yet'

Updated October 09, 2012 19:14:06

The Hopman Cup will once again wheel out the big names this summer, dispelling fears the iconic mixed-teams event would lose out on the best players following the controversial dumping of tournament co-founder Paul McNamee.

World number Novak Djokovic, pin-up girl Ana Ivanovic and seven-times grand slam champion Venus Williams will be joined by Australian Bernard Tomic, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Spain's Fernando Verdasco and Germany's Tommy Haas at the 25th edition from December 29 to January 5.

McNamee was axed as tournament director earlier this year, with the International Tennis Federation effectively putting Tennis Australia in charge of the event.

But with TA also in charge of the Brisbane International, which runs at a similar time to the Hopman Cup, McNamee feared TA would ensure the world's best players would feature in Brisbane rather than Perth.

However, Hopman Cup event director Steve Ayles - who is employed by TA - denied a conflict of interest existed.

"I didn't think there was any substance to those comments then, I don't now and I won't in the future," Ayles said on Tuesday.

"I think it's one of the strongest fields that the event's had.

"Even some of the players that are ranked lower, like Venus Williams, she's ranked 40th at the moment, but I think it's fair to say that nobody expects her to play to that ranking.

"Andrea Petkovic, she's a top-10 player when she's fit. And hopefully by January she'll be fit again.

"We've got three males in the top 12. There's a lot of good combinations in there."

Perth-born Casey Dellacqua will partner world number 43 Bernard Tomic for Australia, the pair seeded a lowly eighth.

Serbian duo Djokovic and world number 12 Ivanovic deservedly earned top billing while the US, with Williams and world number 12 John Isner, second seeds.

Third seed Italy will be represented by Andreas Seppi and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone; world number 23 Verdasco will partner Anabel Medina Garrigues for fourth-seeded Spain, while world number 21 Haas has been teamed with Petkovic for Germany.

Despite Tsonga's number six world ranking, France was seeded seventh, with the flamboyant Frenchman to be paired with Mathilde Johansson.

South Africa will be represented by Kevin Anderson and Chanelle Scheepers.


Tags: tennis, sport, perth-6000, wa, australia

First posted October 09, 2012 17:09:37

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