Mag By Craig Gabriel
"WHY? JUST WHY?" AS SWISS WIN HOPMAN CUP
After three decades the Hopman Cup will be no more, certainly not the way it has been the last 30 years when it successfully resided in Perth, Western Australia. It was an event devised by Charlie Fancutt and Paul McNamee to honour the legendary Harry Hopman a man that was a drill sergeant and Davis Cup captain and a very successful one for Australian tennis (as an FYI, I did the last interview with Mr. Hopman). The tournament was unique as it featured men’s and women’s singles and mixed doubles.
The ITF bought the tournament and Tennis Australia took over its administration and running but on 5 January 2019 the Hopman Cup saw its last matches played as Switzerland defeated Germany for the second year running. And this year’s edition was the most successful in the tournament’s history.
Tennis Australia and the ATP have joined forces and will be staging the new version of what was the World Team Cup (originally known as the Nations Cup) that used to be played in Dusseldorf, Germany. It tried to be a sort of opposite number to the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas but that never was the case.
The new ATP Cup will be 24 teams playing a round robin format in three cities. One of those cities will be Perth hence the curtain coming down on the Hopman Cup. The new event will be played across ten days from 2020.
Brisbane and Sydney will be the other two cities and with the state government in Sydney putting up the funds which will allow the Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney to get a roof this year. The government is pushing for the Sydney component of the ATP Cup to get the most important part of the ATP Cup.
But I digress.
Perth really warmed to the Hopman Cup. Being a four plus hour flight from the east coast which hosted all the tennis action in Australia, Perth felt isolated until the Hopman Cup.
It is a shame neither tour accepted the tournament.
There was much to revel in at this year’s Hopman Cup with the biggest talking point being the mixed doubles match that involved the USA and Switzerland. It was amusing to notice the talk because as far as the majority were concerned the only two on court were Roger Federer and Serena Williams. It was as if their respective partners Belinda Bencic and Frances Tiafoe did not exist.
It was definite fun though and at the end it was like a love-in on court between the two GOATs with selfies etc, and that type of global attention cannot be bought.
Over the years there have been some great matches; the atmosphere has been relaxed and it was a massive tourist promotion. The Western Australian tourism office should have made Mr. Federer their pin-up boy the year he took selfies with the furry strange looking animal called a quokka o Rottnest Island and later invited the world to see that part of Australia.
And this year just before the curtain came down it was the very last point that decided the final Hopman Cup champion nation - it was a glorious display of rapid-fire shot making between all four players.
The Swiss beat the Germans 2-1. Mr. Federer beat Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-2 then Angle Kerber levelled things with a 6-4, 7-6 win over Belinda Bencic before the Swiss won the mixed 4-0, 1-4, 4-3. It’s the first time a nation had won the event in back-to-back years and Mr. Federer is the only player to have been part of three Hopman Cup winning teams.
An amusingly frustrated Mr. Zverev had the stadium in fits of laughter when he appealed to Roger.
“We’re all tired of you guys already, but what can we do?” Zverev said “Especially you (pointing to Roger). I mean, you’re 30-whatever. Why? Just why? Let us have one — just the Hopman Cup, man. Just once.”
Roger and Belinda lost it and were hysterical with laughter.
“What the hell are you laughing at right now?” Sascha continued. Mr. Federer dropped his responsibility and pointed at Miss Bencic saying “she did it” making it clear she was making him laugh.
Sascha added: “What a nice guy, huh?”
More of all that in tennis please. It was a wonderful way for the Hopman Cup to close.