Every player arrives in Perth determined to claim a Mastercard Hopman Cup title for their nation. And yet victories – be it matches or the title – are not the only magical memories created in the first event of the new season.
Here are five storylines we’ll cherish from Mastercard Hopman Cup 2019.
GREATEST SELFIE EVER
Roger Federer and Serena Williams were as excited as the fans about their first-ever competitive encounter in the Hopman Cup setting. There had never been another match like it, each said, and it’s unlikely to ever happen again.
Contested before Perth’s highest-ever crowd at a tennis event, with 14,064 fans at RAC Arena, the superbly entertaining match-up was completed with the selfie that’s since been shared countless times around the world.
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari couldn’t have been more delighted to become only the second team, and the first since 2003, to represent Greece at Mastercard Hopman. Cup. – and the exciting young stars proved quite a force.
Bouncing back quickly from an upset loss to Cameron Norrie, world No.15 Tsitsipas passed a next-gen test against Frances Tiafoe and pushed his idol, Roger Federer, in their first-ever match.
Maria Sakkari also competed against a childhood idol in Serena Williams, and claimed singles wins over Katie Boulter and Belinda Bencic.
The high point was the Greek’s 4-3(4) 2-4 4-3(3) mixed doubles win over Federer and Bencic, which earned a 2-1 win against Switzerland. “No words (are) needed. No caption, no nothing,” said Tsitsipas, showing how he and Sakkari had excited fans with their joyful and unfiltered celebrations.
“It’s just so emotional to be doing this with Maria here in Perth. if you would have told me that would have two wins in the group’s (stage) beating such a great country like Switzerland I will tell you a liar but yeah, we did it, it’s unbelievable.
“Big thanks to the fans. We feel like we feel like home, playing here. We basically feel like we’re playing in Athens.”
HELLO … AND GOOD-BYE
If there was a bittersweet irony in the fact that David Ferrer’s debut Mastercard Hopman Cup appearance would also be his last-ever matches contested in Australia, it didn’t detract from his performance.
The enduring Spaniard, playing just six events this season before he retires in Madrid, pushed Alexander Zverev and Lucas Pouille to three sets and was an upset winner over Matt Ebden.
It underlines the work ethic and fighting spirit that has made Ferrer, now 36 and increasingly troubled by injuries, a favourite with both fans and other players.
“I try to enjoy every match that I play … I love this game, I love the tennis,” says the former world No.3, adding that he’ll almost certainly return to the tour, perhaps in a coaching role.
As the world tennis spotlight shone on superstar players at RAC Arena, there was also plenty of interest in champion coaches.
Former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo, who represented France at the 2004 Hopman Cup, returned as the superstar advisor to Lucas Pouille while seven-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl, a competitor at this event in 1994, made his repeat visit as coach to Alexander Zverev.
Angelique Kerber also returned with another notable player in her advisory group, with Australian Open 2003 finalist Rainer Schuettler now part of her team. “We really had a good off-season; a tough one. He knows me as a player,” said the German
“He was a player as well, so he knows what it is like to be on court and feeling the pressure, feeling all of the things going on in your mind.
A treasured tradition at Mastercard Hopman Cup is the sight of the world’s top players soaking up unique off-court experiences.
Roger Federer continued an established trend as he started this summer’s visit with a day at The Pinnacles. It was followed by a string of players – including Zverev, Angelique Kerber, Ash Barty, Tsitsipas and Sakkari – travelling to Rottnest Island and snapping selfies with the quokkas. Team Greece also met other Australian animals at Caversham Wildlife Park.
For Alize Cornet and Lucas Pouille, surfing at Trigg Point was a highlight, while Brits Katie Boutler and Cameron Norrie enjoyed the sights of Perth from a jet-boat on Swan River.