As a young tennis fan, he watched the world’s top players compete at the Hopman Cup; soon afterwards there would be the opportunity to practise with some of the notable names who competed in Perth.
Now, the Perth-raised Matt Ebden is relishing the chance to represent Australia at his home event. “I’m extremely excited,” he told media today. “It’s pretty special. I’m honoured to play.”
While it was a late call up for his country, with Ebden replacing the injured Nick Kyrgios for Australia, he expects it will be a career highlight. “It’s like Davis Cup. You play Davis Cup for Australia, Hopman Cup for Australia. It’s up there,” he said.
Ebden is especially excited to be competing with fellow West Australian Casey Dellacqua, marking the first time that a local duo has represented Australia at the Hopman Cup. “To be able to play with her is a dream,” he said.
The unique format, in which mixed doubles is often a deciding factor, could be an advantage for the locals, who previously competed together at the Australian Open. “We had a good time – we won a match or two. It’s going to be good. I’m looking forward to it,” said Ebden.
“Casey and I have known each other a long time and being from here we’re going to enjoy it and try to put on a good show and if it’s possible, try to win.”
Having contended with a virus following the US Open Ebden fell to world No.231, but after a solid six week training block in the off season, he’s determined to capitalise on his Hopman Cup experience.
“As far as I’m concerned the year-end ranking for 2015 starts now,” he said. “I’m 27 now so I’m not too young but I’m not too old either … I hope to play for many more years to come.”
Ebden’s Hopman Cup campaign will kick off on Sunday, when Australia meets Poland in the evening session. The local is targeting a successful start against the powerful Jerzy Janowicz, having played an exhibition against him in the US last year.
“I’ve been practising in these conditions for the past six weeks,” Ebden pointed out, joking adding that the opposite is true for Janowicz. “Coming from Europe, cold conditions. Hopefully he’s a bit rusty.”
While that comment was delivered with a laugh, Ebden is serious about his objectives for a successful week in Perth.
“I think we can put on good tennis for the crowd first and foremost. The great thing about it is that everybody’s guaranteed three matches going into the Australian Open and that couldn’t be better.”