Australian No.1s Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic will come together to create a start-studded team at the Hyundai Hopman Cup and attract the lion’s share of publicity and support among crowds at the Perth Arena.
It is the first time the pair have combined to represent their country at the international mixed teams event; Tomic returns for the second straight year after partnering Ash Barty in 2013, while Stosur makes her first appearance in Perth since 2010, when she played alongside Lleyton Hewitt.
It will be an exciting prospect to watch these two Aussie stars in action on home soil, and one which they’re both looking forward to.
Tomic, in particular, found himself right at home at the stunning Perth Arena, going undefeated in three singles matches – one of those victories came in straight sets over then-world No.1 Novak Djokovic – and sending the packed audiences into raptures.
“It’s one of the nicest arenas I’ve ever played on. It’s beautiful, it’s different, and to me it is one of the best arenas,” said Tomic.
“It’s very good prep for there (the Australian Open) … I’m going to use it as much as I can and get ready for the big one in Melbourne.”
Indeed, Tomic’s form in Perth acted as a springboard to more Aussie summer success; the very next week he went on to win his first ATP title in Sydney, and then reach the third round at Melbourne Park – taking his winning streak to 10 matches – before falling to Roger Federer.
Although his results tapered as the year progressed, he did bob up to produce his best tennis on some of the game’s other big stages, most notably at Wimbledon – where he reached the fourth round – and in Davis Cup, where he won all four of his live singles rubbers to help elevate Australia into the World Group.
Such performances proved Tomic’s abilities as a big match player, comfortable in the spotlight of the largest show courts and stadiums.
A similar environment will be created by the 12,500-seat Perth Arena, and a strong field containing six of the world’s top 25 men, including top-tenner Jo-Wilfried Tsonger and towering power-servers John Isner, Jerzy Janowicz and Milos Raonic.
“You know you’re going to get a lot of great matches here … so it should be good for me,” Tomic said.
Getting a lot of matches is also a reason Stosur was attracted to the event in the west.
Traditionally, the world No.18 has prepared for the Australian Open by entering the Brisbane International and Apia International Sydney, but after some less-than-ideal results in the past two years following that route, she decided a change was in order.
“I’ve played in Perth before a couple of times and always enjoyed it there; that week is always a tough decision when you get asked to play at the Hopman Cup but the other tournament that’s on (the Brisbane International) is in your home state,” she said.
“(But) the last two years I’ve gone to Brisbane, I haven’t really felt that great about things by the time I’ve left, so why not try something different?”
Tellingly, Stosur’s best two performances at the Australian Open – fourth round finishes in 2006 and 2010 – are the two years she played at the Hopman Cup. It seems the round-robin format agrees with the big-hitting 29-year-old.
“I think usually I play a little better once I’ve gained a bit of momentum, or at least played some matches. In Perth you can have three matches, win or lose, which will hopefully be good for me and hopefully build some confidence through some wins,” she surmised.
Stosur will arrive in Perth having won 12 of her past 15 matches, a strong finish to the season highlighted by her title in Osaka and finals in Moscow and Sofia. Such confidence will stand her in good stead when she begins her summer campaign, and she’ll need it when she faces strong opposition including Eugenie Bouchard, Flavia Pennetta and Agnieszka Radwanska in Perth.
The seventh-seeded Australian team will first play No.4 seeds Canada in a blockbuster Saturday night spectacle pitting Stosur against Bouchard and Tomic against Raonic.
To see Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic in action representing Australia at the 2014 Hyundai Hopman Cup, get your tickets now.