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14 July 2024

Hopman Cup departs Perth after 31 years as new ATP Cup takes over

Photo: AFP


The unique mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth has been axed after 31 years and replaced by the ATP World Team Cup, officials said Thursday in a revamp of the season-opening tennis calendar.

Two of the three cities to host the new men-only tournament - Sydney and Brisbane - had already been announced with Perth now confirmed as the third.

It means the popular Hopman Cup, won this year by Swiss pair Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic, has had to make way.

"While many may be looking at this change and saying we've lost something, we've actually gained something," said tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley.

"This global event, which will be broadcast in every country around the world, will showcase this great city (Perth) to the world.

"The ATP Cup will launch the global tennis season for the men - this is their event, it means a lot to them and they've thrown their support behind it 100 percent," he added.

Hopman Cup founder and former tennis great Paul McNamee told broadcaster ABC it was a sad day.

"Nothing could've been embraced by the people of the city more than the Hopman Cup in Perth, so my immediate feeling is sadness that it's not going to be there anymore, and concern about where the Hopman Cup may be in the future," he said.

'Keep Hopman alive'

The International tennis Federation said it was keen to keep the mixed team format alive and had received interest from cities around the world keen to host the Hopman Cup.

"We are in discussions with potential partners to decide where and when this tournament will be next hosted," said ITF president David Haggerty.

"We will keep the Hopman Cup alive and look forward to successful future editions of this unique event."

The Association of tennis Professionals, which runs the men's game, voted in London earlier this year to award the new ATP Cup tournament, which carries 750 ranking points, to Australia.

It will be played annually over 10 days - with the inaugural event beginning on January 3, 2020 - in the lead-up to the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year.

Sydney will host the final of the 24-team event with Brisbane and Perth holding round-robin games, with nations split into six groups. Eight teams will make it to the knockout phase.

There will be up to five players in each team, with ties comprising two singles matches and one doubles, and player eligibility determined by ATP rankings.

'Heartbreaking' loss

It is yet to be decided which countries will play in which city.

"We know the ATP Cup will provide a great way to open the season - bringing together the world's best for a major team event that compliments existing scheduling, provides highly-coveted ATP ranking points and clearly links to the Australian Open," said ATP chief Chris Kermode.

Over the years the Hopman Cup, named after Australian tennis great Harry Hopman, proved an extremely popular format and attracted many of the game's biggest names.

Federer has won it a record three times and this year faced Serena Williams across the net in mixed doubles as Switzerland took on the United States.

At the time Williams said it would be "heartbreaking" if the tournament was axed while Federer called it "an unbelievable event".

Its demise means no more women's tennis in Perth, although Tiley said he was in "deep discussions" with the WTA Tour about remedying that, although not in time for 2020.

Sydney has also lost its January women's tournament, but a new combined men's and women's event in Adelaide has been announced while the WTA Brisbane International has been retained.