Nice | Hopman Cup kicks off in Nice after an absence of 4 years

The Hopman Cup has returned this week after a four-year absence, with the mixed-gender event taking place at the Nice Lawn Tennis Club where 6 nations are battling it out in its 32nd edition.

As part of a 5-year partnership between the ITF and Barcelona-based company Tennium, which operate multiple ATP and WTA tournaments, the Hopman Cup has been revived with host nation, France’s team consisting of Richard Gasquet and Alizé Cornet; while Spain is represented by Carlos Alcaraz and Rebeka Masarova; Switzerland made up of Leandro Riedi and Celine Naef; Holger Rune and Clara Tauson flying the flag for Denmark; David Goffin and Elise Mertens representing Belgium; and Borna Coric and Donna Vekic making up the Croatian team.

The Hopman Cup was co-founded by 3 Aussie players and friends, Paul McNamee, Charlie Fancutt and Pat Cash, who dedicated the event to the legendary Harry Hopman, who captained Australia to 16 Davis Cup victories.

Their dream was for the Hopman Cup, a team event for men and women, to one day stand alongside the ITF’s flagship team events, the Davis Cup for men and the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge for women.

Commencing in December 1988, with the support of the Western Australian Government, the Hopman Cup was conducted at the Burswood Dome for 24 years, with the ‘Hopman Cup family’ guidance of Lesley and Paul McNamee, after which it moved to a new home, the purpose-built Perth Arena.

The Hopman Cup is a fitting tribute to the man it was named after and the many people who helped create it.

It was scrapped in 2019, however, primarily to make way for the ATP Cup, which took its slot in the calendar for 3 years.

This season, the ATP Cup was replaced by another mixed-gender international team event, the United Cup, which took place across several different Australian cities to kick off the new season.

The United Cup is a jointly backed venture between the WTA, the ATP and Tennis Australia, in what was rightly viewed as a huge step forward for alignment between the two tours.

The ITF, however, decided to re-launch the Hopman Cup this year, despite the fact that the tennis calendar already has a mixed-gender international tournament,  but the two events should be able to co-exist, as they take place at different times of the season.

There are also some key differences between the competitions, namely that the Hopman Cup teams consist of only two players from a certain nation, whereas the United Cup has several.

Leandro Riedi pulled off an upset by defeating World No 6 Holger Rune in the opening tie of the Hopman Cup between defending champions Switzerland and Denmark

In Group A are Denmark, Switzerland, and France, who will all compete against each other in a round robin format, while Belgium, Spain, and Croatia will contend Group B.

The top-placed teams from each group will advance to the final, scheduled to take place on Sunday.

Switzerland are the current holders, as Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic took the title home for their country in the last edition back in 2019, beating Germany, represented by Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev, in the final.

Bencic was due to compete this year but pulled out last week, as did Paula Badosa, both with injuries incurred at last week’s Wimbledon, which has made it difficult for many players to participate.

After the withdrawal of the third highest-ranked WTA player at the event, Switzerland’s team of Riedi and Naef looked significantly weakened, but they pulled off a stunning win over Denmark on Wednesday to lead Group A.

Although Clara Tauson gave the Danes a good start by beating 18-year-old Celine Naef, ranked No 157 in the world, in straight sets, 6-2 6-3, Holger Rune, the World No 6, suffered a surprising loss in the men’s singles when 21-year-old Leandro Riedi, ranked 157, beat him 6-4 6-3, to level the tie.

Neither player served that well in the match as they both hovered around the 50% mark, while Rune had a lot of trouble on his second serve as Riedi proved quite aggressive both with his returns and his play generally.

The Dane also was not as sharp as he needed to be, losing crucial rallies, and he faced 7 break points, 5 of which he saved, but it was enough to give his opponent 2 breaks to work with, and, in a match where Rune only saw one break point chance and failed to convert it, it proved costly.

Riedi finished off the match in straight sets to set up the very exciting mixed doubles match that saw all four players back on court, and it was the Swiss pair of Naef & Riedi who combined the best to beat Tauson & Rune, 6-3 7-5, to seal the win, 2-1.

Switzerland's Leandro Riedi & Celine Naef beat Holger Rune & Clara Tauson (top left) in the deciding mixed doubles rubber to lead Group A

Denmark will now try redeem themselves on Thursday when they take on France, comprising of Richard Gasquet and Alizé Cornet, while the Swiss team will take on France on Friday.

Also in action on Thursday are Belgium, who take on Croatia in Group B, while Spain starts its campaign in on Friday, when they meet Belgium.

To watch the live action, fans are able to access Hopman Cup TV via Recast, a subscription-free sports and entertainment streaming platform by registering online.

Registering for Recast is free, quick and easy, and content can be watched on your TV by connecting your laptop to your TV via cable, using Google Chromecast or Apple Airplay.

Recast is a progressive web application, so it can be accessed from any device (phone, tablet, laptop).

Roger Federer & Belinda Bencic won the Hopman Cup for Switzerland in 2019 after defeating runners-up Alexander Zverev & Angelique Kerber of Germany in the final in Perth, Australia in January

© Tony Ashby/AFP via Getty Images



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