Former Hopman Cup director Paul McNamee isn’t pleased with the format of the inaugural edition of the United Cup, which inadvertently makes the much-anticipated mixed-doubles encounter almost irrelevant.
The 2023 United Cup, a mixed-gender event which involves the world’s best tennis players such as Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jessica Pegula, Alexander Zverev, Paula Badosa, Matteo Berrettini and Maria Sakkari to name a few, is a new collaborative effort between the ATP and WTA. It was introduced as a replacement for the erstwhile ATP Cup, which had the top men’s players representing their countries.
The United Cup has similarities with the Hopman Cup (a mixed-gender ITF event, with a single pair of athletes representing their country). The new tournament has, however, been called out by Paul McNamee for pushing the highly sought-after mixed-doubles encounter as the last fixtures between teams in the round robin format, potentially making it a dead rubber.
“I’m not happy the mixed (doubles) is the last match. It’s lost... I will give that feedback to Tennis Australia,” McNamee said, as reported by the West Australian. “It’s all over by the time you get to the mixed. That’s going to be unfortunately a recurring trend that understates the importance of men and women on the court together.”
“I’m still uncomfortable with the mixed being last because the likelihood of it still being live is so low. Don’t leave it as an afterthought. For me it’s the main course being served last, I don’t get it,” added McNamee, a former World No. 1 doubles player.
"You rarely get a second chance at something" – Former Hopman Cup director Paul McNamee wants Perth to host concluding United Cup clashes in the future
Paul McNamee, former director of the Hopman Cup and current ambassador to the United Cup, also spoke about Perth’s lost chance at hosting the semifinals and finals of the 2023 United Cup. Those matches which will instead be held in Sydney.
“I am not sure Perth understands how much potential there is,” he said. “You rarely get a second chance at something in a market once you’ve lost something."
Perth, the host city for the 2023 United Cup alongside Sydney and Brisbane, has a rich history of conducting mixed-gender team events; the Hopman Cup itself was created in the city. McNamee insisted that the Western Australian capital city should be the one to organize the concluding stages of the newly introduced event.
“This was the birth of mixed-team’s tennis, here we go, it happened in Perth and we get a second crack at it. Embrace it, because it’s really got potential and I think if the government sees what the opportunity is, it’s right there in front,” McNamee noted.
“Outside Melbourne Park, where’s the best place to play tennis in Australia? It’s here in this Arena. I feel it should be hosting the second biggest event in Australia, which is this one,” he added.
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