HOPMAN CUP DOOMED

The Sunday Times - - Front Page - BRADEN QUARTERMAINE

THE Hopman Cup is fac­ing the axe af­ter 30 years and is likely to be staged for the fi­nal time at Perth Arena this sum­mer.

The Sun­day Times un­der­stands the State Gov­ern­ment — through ma­jor part­ner Tourism WA — is pre­par­ing to di­vert fund­ing to the new ATP World Team Cup event which will come to Aus­tralia in Jan­uary 2020.

The World Team Cup, to be run by the ATP and Ten­nis Aus­tralia, will fea­ture $20 mil­lion in prize money to make it the rich­est tour­na­ment in the world out­side of the grand slams. Un­like the Hopman Cup, it will also of­fer play­ers the chance to play for rank­ing points.

The lu­cra­tive prize pool is ex­pected to at­tract some of the best male play­ers in the world, how­ever the move means WA fans would lose top-level women’s ten­nis.

The Hopman Cup mixed teams tour­na­ment has brought the big­gest stars of the women’s game to Perth over the past three decades, in­clud­ing Ser­ena Wil­liams, Martina Hingis and St­effi Graf.

The WA Gov­ern­ment and TA are be­lieved to be in de­tailed talks over stag­ing one of three eight-team groups in the re­booted 24-team World Team Cup, which was given the green light by the ATP this week. Host­ing the World Team Cup could re­quire the State Gov­ern­ment to in­vest in an in­fra­struc­ture up­grade.

Ten­nis in­sid­ers have de­scribed the Hopman Cup, con­trolled by the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion, as “doomed” as the Gov­ern­ment switches its fo­cus to the new event.

The only chance of the Hopman Cup sur­viv­ing past this sum­mer ap­pears to be if TA and the WA Gov­ern­ment can’t com­plete a deal to bring the new event to Perth.

TA be­lieves the World Team Cup will rev­o­lu­tionise the Aussie ten­nis sum­mer. How­ever the Aus­tralian team, which has gen­er­ally been a ma­jor at­trac­tion at the Hopman Cup, may only play in Perth ev­ery three years as part of the new teams tour­na­ment.

Perth also ap­pears likely to miss out on host­ing the fi­nal of the new event, with the pointy end of the tour­na­ment ex­pected to be held in Syd­ney. Bris­bane is also set to host part of the new event.

TA said it was com­mit­ted to the cur­rent Hopman Cup deal and talks about the new event were only in the early stages.

“We have an agree­ment in place with the gov­ern­ment to run the event un­til 2022 and Ten­nis Aus­tralia plans to hon­our this agree­ment,” TA said in a state­ment last night.

“Fol­low­ing the ATP board vote this week, the process now is for more deep en­gage­ment with ma­jor stake­hold­ers such as the West Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment.”

Tourism WA di­rected ques­tions on the tour­na­ment’s fu­ture to the Gov­ern­ment. Act­ing Tourism Min­is­ter Bill John­ston re­fused to dis­cuss the Hopman Cup’s fu­ture.

In a state­ment, a Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said it was “com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing world-class ten­nis in Perth”.

“Tourism WA will work with Ten­nis Aus­tralia and other part­ners to keep world­class ten­nis in Perth,” the spokesper­son said.

ATP ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Chris Ker­mode said the new event had “huge po­ten­tial”.

A record 106,424 fans at­tended last sum­mer’s Hopman Cup at Perth Arena, won by Swiss leg­end Roger Fed­erer and part­ner Belinda Ben­cic.

Fed­erer will re­turn to head­line this sum­mer’s edi­tion from De­cem­ber 29-Jan­uary 5.

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