Tennis world in uproar over 'ridiculous' Hopman Cup announcement

Serena Williams and Roger Federer, pictured here in the last edition of the Hopman Cup in 2019.
Serena Williams and Roger Federer featured in the last edition of the Hopman Cup in 2019. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The beloved Hopman Cup is making a shock return to the tennis calendar after a four-year hiatus, but it will take place outside of Australia and in the middle of the year. The mixed-gender team event, which previously took place in Perth at the start of the Australian summer, was axed in 2019 - much to the displeasure of fans.

It has since been replaced by the short-lived ATP Cup, and now the United Cup which will take place for the first time in 2023. But the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced on Tuesday that the Hopman Cup will also be back in 2023 and take place in Nice, France from July 19-23.

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The Nice Lawn Tennis Club will host the event until to 2027. The move to Europe is part of a five-year contract between the ITF and Barcelona-based company Tennium, which operate multiple ATP and WTA tournaments.

ITF President David Haggerty said on Tuesday: "The Hopman Cup, as a unique mixed-team event, has always enjoyed a special place in the hearts of tennis fans. I am sure that spectators in Nice will relish the chance to see some of the world's top men and women players on the same court."

As in previous editions, teams will have one male and one female player, with a men's singles, a women's singles and a mixed doubles match forming each tie. Named after Aussie legend Harry Hopman, the ITF said the event will feature six nations in the 2023 and 2024, but the competition will expand to eight teams from 2025 onwards. France will take part each year as hosts.

Tennis world erupts over Hopman Cup announcement

The Hopman Cup has produced some iconic moments over the years after being introduced in 1989. In its final edition in 2019, Roger Federer and Serena Williams did battle in a mixed doubles match before Federer led Switzerland to the title alongside Belinda Bencic.

The event was controversially axed in 2019, leading to the introduction of the men's-only ATP Cup. But the United Cup (a new mixed-gender event) will replace the ATP Cup in 2023.

The $US15 million ($A23m) United Cup will now kick off the 2023 global tennis season in Australia, just like the Hopman Cup previously did. The world's best male and female players will compete side-by-side in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic, pictured here at the last edition of the Hopman Cup in 2019.
Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic won the last edition of the Hopman Cup in 2019. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Eighteen nations will compete, with fans in Brisbane and Perth to be treated to international tennis for the first time since 2020. Sydney will host the event's finals.

The fact that we now have two mixed-gender events - as well as the timing of the new Hopman Cup - has sparked a mixed reaction in the tennis world. Many have pointed out that the Hopman Cup will now take place just a week after Wimbledon and at the same time as a number of ATP and WTA events.

Many have questioned if the Hopman Cup will be able to attract the same stars as the United Cup will. Rafa Nadal and Nick Kyrgios are among a plethora of top names who have confirmed their participation at the United Cup.

Leading tennis writer Jose Morgado tweeted: "The Hopman Cup is back in 2023. Shorter format, week after Wimbledon. Can’t see how this can be successful." American player Tennys Sandgren said: "Tennis is so weird. These decisions are just bizarre to me."

with agencies

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