Alexander Zverev, who defeated 2016 US Open champion Stan Wawrinka to win his debut title at the ATP St. Petersburg event last week, will represent his country, Germany, in the mixed-gender Hopman Cup in early January, it has been announced.
The 19-year-old became the first teenager to win an ATP title since Marin Cilic in 2008; currently ranked 24th on the ATP standings and the youngest player in the top 50, Zverev could become one of a handful of players to have ended the year in the top 20 as teenagers – among them the top-ranked Novak Djokovic, former World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, and No. 2 Andy Murray.
Zverev has had perhaps his best year yet in 2016, defeating not one but three top 10 players in 2016 – notably among them Roger Federer at the semi-finals of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, played on the surface Federer has been by far the most successful on – grass, defeating Tomas Berdych en route to his St. Petersburg win over Stan Wawrinka.
The teen also forced Rafael Nadal to dig deep to beat him at Indian Wells.
Since the beginning of the 2016 season, the German has climbed from 83rd to 24th - a staggeringly positive sign for performances to come.
Now, Zverev will represent Australia for the second time at the Hopman Cup, having made his debut at the Australian tournament this year, partnering Sabine Lisicki. In his singles rubbers, he was beaten by Australia's Nick Kyrgios and World No. 2 Andy Murray, representing Great Britain, but beat the then-higher-ranked Kenny de Schepper of France in straight sets.
This year, he will partner Petkovic, who will also appear in her second Hopman Cup. Petkovic, a former French Open semi-finalist, previously appeared at the Hopman Cup in 2013, partnering Tommy Haas.
This will only be Zverev’s third time representing his country in tennis, having played for the side at the Davis Cup this year. Petkovic, currently at 44th on the women's singles circuit, is an experienced campaigner for Germany, however, playing at the Fed Cup and the Olympic Games in addition to the Hopman Cup.
It is Germany’s fourteenth appearance at the Hopman Cup since its inauguration in 1989. They have won twice, and been runners-up on one occasion.
India at the Hopman Cup
Although there are no qualifying criteria listed for the Hopman Cup, the international tennis tournament sees eight teams compete for glory in men’s and women’s singles and mixed doubles for the trophy.
Several nations have playoffs to fill the ‘last’ slot, but for a time, the final spot was reserved for the winner of the Asian Hopman Cup qualifiers.
India won the qualifiers in 2007, receiving a ‘wildcard’ to compete at that year’s edition of the Hopman Cup. The side saw Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna compete, with the pair beating the Czech Republic and Croatia 2-1 each time.
The Asian Qualifying Event only ran for another two years, during which India failed to move beyond the round-robin stages of the tournament.
Other high profile names to participate - as Federer returns!
Four teams have been confirmed to participate at the 2017 Hopman Cup so far, among them Germany, Switzerland, the United States and the Czech Republic. Hosts Australia, who are the defending champions and had two teams – Australia Gold and Australia Green – representing them, are yet to announce their lineup for 2017, but this year had Nick Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova representing Australia Green to win the title.
But perhaps the team fans will most be looking forward to is Switzerland.
The 2017 Hopman Cup will mark the return of former World No. 1 Roger Federer to professional tennis, with the Swiss having taken a hiatus from competition following Wimbledon this year. Federer’s long-standing injuries, the player has said, have necessitated long-term rehabilitation, following which the Swiss legend intends to return to tennis for “a number of years.”
This year will see Federer make his third Hopman Cup appearance; he has played twice before, in 2001 and 2002; the team won in 2001, with Federer partnering former women's World No. 1 Martina Hingis.
Federer will play alongside teenage Swiss ace Belinda Bencic, who won the Rogers Cup title in 2015. The 19-year-old hit the top-10 earlier this year, since having dropped to 16th.
This will be Bencic’s first Hopman Cup appearance, although she has successfully represented Switzerland at the women's team event the Fed Cup on prior occasion.
Team USA will see Jack Sock partner former doubles No. 1 Coco Vandeweghe, with the Czech Republic represented by former No. 1 Petra Kvitova and men’s player Adam Pavlasek. Spain, France, Australia and Great Britain will be the other teams at the tournament, but are yet to announce their teams.
The 2017 Hopman Cup will commence on the 1st of January, 2017.