They might fly slightly under the radar, but the Italian team coming to Perth for Hyundai Hopman Cup 2014 are a duo that no nation will look forward to playing come January.
Flavia Pennetta and Andreas Seppi combine for 26 years of experience on the professional tours and 12 career singles titles, as well as several years under their belts of representing their country in Fed Cup and Davis Cup.
With Seppi hailing from South Tyrol in the snowy north and Pennetta from sunny, southern Brindisi, the two Italian stars have their country – both metaphorically and literally – covered.
And it will no doubt show when they take to Perth Arena for their first match against top seeds Poland in what will be the first tie of the Hopman Cup.
Pennetta in particular has made a stunning return to form of late. Heading into Wimbledon in late June, she languished at world No.166, struggling in her return from a six-month lay-off due to a wrist injury. At 31 years of age, it might have been reasonable to assume that the best days of her career – highlighted by a top 10 ranking in 2009 – were behind her.
But in an encouraging fortnight at the All England Club, she reached the fourth round, a result that helped her return to the world’s top 100. With form improving, she arrived in New York for the US Open and stormed to the semifinals without the loss of a set, her best ever Grand Slam result.
Pennetta now sits at world No.31, and will undoubtedly be motivated to snap a three-match losing streak to Agnieszka Radwanska, her Polish opponent against whom she will open her Hopman Cup campaign.
Unlike Pennetta, who’s success was concentrated into a three-month purple patch beginning at Wimbledon, Seppi’s good performances were more evenly distributed throughout the season, which began with representing Italy at the Hopman Cup.
The 29-year-old reached five ATP semifinals in 2013 and maintained a top 25 ranking for the second straight year, posting defeats over Marin Cilic, Tommy Robredo, Kei Nishikori and Lleyton Hewitt to solidify his status as a dangerous competitor on the men’s tour.
He may not be the flashiest of performers, but Seppi’s impressive blend of groundstroke power, nimble court coverage and steady mentality will make him a tough player to overcome in Perth.
To see Flavia Pennetta and Andreas Seppi in action representing Australia at the 2014 Hyundai Hopman Cup, get your tickets now.