The 2017 Hopman Cup will start on Sunday from Perth, Australia (+13hrs. from ET). The event features eight teams, drawn along national lines, and the blockbuster team in the event is Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic. Federer will be making his long-awaited return to tennis, albeit not in an official tour match. However, I think the team of Daria Gavrilova and Nick Kyrgios will be the one that comes through and wins the tournament.
The event is separated into two groups, Group A and Group B. Federer and Bencic are in Group A, so that puts them on the opposite side of the draw as Gavrilova and Kyrgios, a team in Group B. The teams were assigned to individual groups based on a seeding process. However, that was done when Petra Kvitova was in the tournament. Last week the Czech player sustained major hand injuries from an in-home knife attack. Of course, with Kvitova now unable to compete she was replaced with a less-dangerous player and Group B now looks a little soft. I see Gavrilova as a favorite to beat Czech player Lucie Hradecka and Spanish player Lara Arruabarrena in Group B. Coco Vandeweghe of the United States is a stronger player. However, I think Gavrilova was playing higher than Vandeweghe toward the end of last season.
The Aussie, who has a very bright future in my opinion, did make a final in Moscow not three months ago, a match that she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova. I actually have Gavrilova easily making the Top 20 this upcoming season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she made the Top 10 (she’s currently the World No. 25). She’s an intense player, the kind that seems like she only has one speed: full throttle. I don’t think the exhibition status of the Hopman Cup will deter her from trying her hardest and that makes her a dangerous player in the women’s side of things in Perth.
Her teammate, Nick Kyrgios, is certainly a player that does have differing speeds. However, I think the suspension he received for tanking his Shanghai Masters match in October puts him under some unique pressure. This is a player who has to reverse a declining reputation that resulted from his suspension. Kyrgios did play well early in December in International Premier Tennis League action, helping his Singapore Slammers to a title. I’m looking for another strong effort out of the Aussie and, joined up with Gavrilova, they make a dangerous team.
Federer and Bencic are in fact very dangerous, but then they both had injury problems in 2016. Any kind of rust and the team of Richard Gasquet and Kristina Mladenovic might cause the Swiss problems within Group A. I don’t think the British team of Heather Watson and Dan Evans poses any kind of danger. However, Alexander Zverev could make the Germans dangerous, and he’s partnered with a solid played in Andrea Petkovic.
The Hopman Cup will run from January 1st to January 7th. There are other men’s and women’s tournaments that will run simultaneously. However, this year’s edition of the event in Perth promises to have a lot of attention as Federer is in it.