Magnificent seven. A new tennis season kicks off

Hopman Cup

The traditional exhibition Hopman Cup has started in Perth. The USA, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Japan, Canada, Switzerland and Australia are taking part in the 30th anniversary drawing. For the first time since 2010, France does not participate, while the “tricolors” are the current champions of the competition. The tournament is indicative, so the lack of winners should hardly be surprising.

The Hopman Cup is named after Harry Hopman, an Australian tennis player and coach who led his country to 15 wins in the Davis Cup from 1938 to 1969. The competition appeared in 1989 and until 2012 was held at the Burswood Dome, now the championship is being held at the Perth Arena. In Australia, the tournament is very popular and has good local TV coverage. Many world TV companies also broadcast this tournament with the participation of eight teams.

The format is very simple: the teams are divided into two subgroups of four each. Within the quartet, each team plays against each, and the best team from the four goes to the final. The meetings themselves consist of three matches: men’s singles, women’s singles and mixed. In the event that two representatives of one country won their singles, the mixed tournament does not matter and is held in a shortened format.

There are a lot of elite players in the 30th draw: five top-10 tennis players at once, including Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev. The most balanced is the US team – Coco Vandevey and Jack Sok. The Americans received the first seed and got into group B, where they will face Russia, Japan and Switzerland. The Russians have already beaten the Stars and Stripes. In another quartet, respectively, Germany, Belgium, Canada and Australia. According to the overall rating of the two team members, the hosts are in eighth place, the thing is that Tanashi Kokkinakis has only 212nd line in the table of ranks. But for Australia, Daria Gavrilova plays, who has already won. In 2016, she, along with Nick Kyrios, brought the country a second trophy. In the final, they defeated the Ukrainian team 2-0. Historically, the most successful are the Americans, who won six times, four titles for the Spaniards, three for the Slovaks.

Doha

For those who want to immediately plunge into tournament tennis, ATP offers three tournaments – in Qatar, India and Australia. The most prestigious of these is the Doha stage. Novak Djokovic was supposed to play here, but due to an elbow injury, he had to withdraw. The Serb did not play with Wimbledon, and in the offseason he added Radek Stepanek to the coaching team, who announced the end of his playing career. Now Novak has a tandem of mentors: Stepanek and Andre Agassi. Djokovic won twice in a row in Doha, and Federer has the most titles – three. The roster is still excellent: Dominic Tim, Pablo Carreno-Busta, Tomas Berdych, Albert Ramos-Vignolas and Richard Gasquet.

Puna

Another tournament will be held in Pune, India. For 12 years, tennis players have come to Chennai, but now players can play at the Balewadi Stadium football stadium. The main stars will be Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson. Horvath won two titles in Chennai, so the Indian courts suit him. Stan Wawrinka won the most – four times. The current champion is Roberto Bautista-Agut, who came to defend his title. He received the third seed.

Brisbane

All tournaments are in one way or another preparation for the Australian Open, so, of course, some kind of start must take place on the Green Continent. It is here that Andy Murray intends to hold the first tournament from Wimbledon. More precisely, the Briton has already played at the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, but it was only one demonstration set with Bautista-Agut. The victory in Abu Dhabi was won by Kevin Anderson. And Murray has already arrived in Australia and is preparing for the start in Brisbane, with Ryan Harrison or Leonardo Mayer becoming his starting rival. Andy won in this city in 2012 and 2013 – he is the only two-time champion. In the first case, he beat Alexander Dolgopolov in the final. Alexander came and this time, he opened the season with a victory over the sixth seeded Diego Schwarzman. The current champion is Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian received the first seed. Murray, Nick Kyrios and Milos Raonic formed the top four.

A major women’s tournament of the WTA Premier category will be held in the same city. Four girls played at the Final Tournament at once – Garbinier Mugurus, Karolina Plishkova, Elina Svitolina and Carolyn Garcia. The Frenchwoman, however, had to withdraw during the first match with Alize Cornet. The squad was really very strong, but top-class tennis players always came to Brisbane. The first draw took place in 2009, and Victoria Azarenko and Serena Williams became its champions twice, Karolina Plishkova, Maria Sharapova, Kaya Kanepi, Petra Kvitova and Kim Kleisters once. Due to such a strong line-up, Svitolina, who received the third seed, will immediately face a difficult game with Carla Suarez-Navarro. Another Ukrainian – Lesya Tsurenko – will meet with Ashley Barty. Almost every match in such a tournament attracts the attention of tennis fans.

Shenzhen

Not everyone wants to play in such a big tournament right away, some like less-stellar competitions , which you can safely roll into. Thus, Simona Halep and Elena Ostapenko chose Shenzhen. Sharapova will also perform here. The choice of Maria, who first of all needs playing practice, seems absolutely logical. At the start, she will play with the Romanian Mihaela Buzernescu. Khalep, the 2015 champion, will start the tournament with a game against Nicole Gibbs, while Ostapenko went to rival Kristina Plishkova.

Auckland

For women, as well as for men, three tournaments are planned for the first week of the season. Another will take place in Auckland, New Zealand. It is here that Caroline Wozniacki will open the season, who will face Madison Brengle in the first round. Julia Görges also got into the top four in seeding. Barbora Strycova and Agnieszka Radwanska. The competition has been held since 1986. Such famous players as Leila Meskhi, Marion Bartoli, Elena Yankovich, Elena Dementyeva, Lindsay Davenport, Ana Ivanovich, Venus Williams, Sloane Stevens and others won here. Radwanska, who participates in the current drawing, also won.

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