Named after Aussie tennis player Harry Hopman, this mixed doubles event straddles the off-season and start of the regular season. Not quite and exhibition, but a good chance to get some match play in before the big tournaments.
It’s an odd duck of an event though, since nobody outside of tennis (or Australia where its played) really knows it’s going on and you’re lucky if you can find the box scores in the newspaper.
When else should it be played?
In a jam packed season for both the ATP and WTA, there is simply no other week that makes sense. It also suffers from a hot and miss entry field. Unlike the Davis Cup and Fed Cup formats, nations are invited to play and big names are hard to come by.
Mardy Fish and Lleyton Hewitt have done a good job supporting it but it’s often the second stringers that show up for better or worse. On the flip side, it is fun to see unusual pairings as random nations bring together their best and sometimes only top players.
Take Bulgaria for example this year. It just so happens they have 1 good male and female player in Grigor Dimitrov and Tsvetana Pironkova. Ironically, Fish and Dimitrov got into a spat during a changeover in this year’s event, trading insults and being separated by the ref. So much for it being a ‘bit of fun’.
The Hopman Cup is probably either of them’s best chance to win a title and is actually a decent pairing for a Grand Slam mixed doubles, should they want to try. Mixed doubles should be encouraged, so perhaps a better time slot would help this competition’s appeal a bit more and make Harry Hopman happy.