Tennis fans have expressed their delight over the announcement of a new Hopman Cup-style mixed gender teams event set to take place at the start of the Australian summer.
The men’s-only ATP Cup has officially been axed in favour of the new $US15 million ($A23m) ‘United Cup’, which will kick off the 2023 global tennis season in Australia.
In a revival of sorts of the hugely popular Hopman Cup, the world’s best male and female players will come together this summer to compete side-by-side at the United Cup in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.
Each team will consist of up to four men and four women, raising the tantalising prospect of old flames Nick Kyrgios and Ajla Tomljanovic reuniting for Australia, or Alex de Minaur pairing up with one of the country’s emerging female stars.
Eighteen nations will compete, with Brisbane and Perth fans to be treated to international tennis for the first time since 2020, with Sydney to stage the finals.
Other potential dream mixed doubles line-ups are Spain’s World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz with Paula Badosa or the great Rafael Nadal with Garbine Muguruza, Greek trailblazers Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari and British grand slam champions Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu.
The United States also have a plethora of appealing options, including women’s top-15 stars Jessica Pegula, World No.4 Coco Gauff, Madison Keys and Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins, and men’s US Open semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe and the 10th-ranked Taylor Fritz.
Canada are also blessed with an abundance of choice with Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Fernandez, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov all possible combinations.
However, Russia and Belarus have been banned due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, meaning the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, and Aryna Sabalenka will miss out.
The United Cup will also offer rankings points and serve as the first lead-up event down under before the Australian Open from January 16-29.
Each city will host two groups of three countries, competing in a round-robin format, with ties comprising of two men’s, two women’s singles matches and one mixed doubles encounter from December 29 to January 4.
Each city’s winner will then advance to the semi-finals in Sydney, with the final taking place at Ken Rosewall Arena on January 8.
Tennis fans looking forward to new United Cup
The United Cup will be somewhat of a revival of the Hopman Cup, a wildly-popular mixed team event staged in Perth which was axed in 2019 after 30 successful years.
The axing of the Hopman Cup led to widespread uproar in the tennis community, with many saying the mixed element was unlike any other event on the global calendar.
The format led to tennis titans Roger Federer and Serena Williams facing off on the court for the first and only time in their careers in the final edition of the tournament almost four years ago.
Federer teamed up with Belinda Bencic to win the event when it was last held in 2019.
Officials hope the United Cup proves a bigger and better version of the Hopman Cup.
“The United Cup presents a unique opportunity to unite both the men’s and women’s tour in a brand new way,” said Tennis Australia boss and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley.
“We have the opportunity here in Australia to leverage tennis’s unique position to allow the world’s top men and women to compete side by side and represent their country at the highest level.
“We couldn’t be more delighted.”