The Hopman Cup is a mixed teams ITF event held at the Burswood Dome, which seats 8,000 people. Relative to larger tournaments, it is boutique in that there are only 16 players and every match is played on one main centre court.
I’ve been to the AAMI Classic and also an ATP tourney in Nottingham but other than that my experience with live tennis is at Grand Slam events like the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
Don’t get me wrong, I love love love the Grand Slams, but there are several things about the size and format of the Hopman Cup that I’ve particularly enjoyed.
The Hopman Cup is played on hard court in hot Perth conditions. It is currently an indoor tournament, but that will change from next year, when the tournament moves to The Perth Arena which will have a retractable roof.
The new venue will also have the same tennis court composition as the Australian Open, meaning that conditions will be really similar to the Australian Open, thus making it a great option for players to get conditioned for the first Grand Slam of the year.
The Hopman Cup attracts high calibre players. In 2012 the field includes the women’s 2011 French Open and Wimbledon champions and the Men’s No.7 and 8.
Eight teams play for their country. Each team is made up of a male and female player. The eight teams are divided into two groups of four so each country plays three other countries in their group. The group winners meet in the final.
For the players, being part of the Hopman Cup means they are guaranteed three singles matches in a week and a fourth match if they make the final. They can also tune up their tennis skills during the mixed doubles matches.
This is a good amount of time on court, in front of a crowd, in preparation for the Australian Open. Particularly in comparison to players who lose in an early round at another tournament and are therefore left to train on practice courts in non competitive conditions for the rest of the week.
The players are really accessible
The smaller crowd means that you can get really close to the players. This makes it easy for autograph seekers to get their big balls signed as the players leave the court after a match, and for spectators to get close up photos of the players.
At the Hopman Cup, the practice court is right next to the centre court. Each day a schedule of who will be practicing when is provided.
Again this means that it’s really easy to get close up photos of the players during their practice sessions, and to get autographs and pics with players once they have finished practicing.
Queues are minimal
Along with the practice court (refer photo above!), this a real bonus for spectators.
Queues are minimal. On Sunday (when Australia played Spain) we queued for about 10 minutes to get into the venue but since then the only time I have queued up is to get a coffee.
No queuing for security to check our bags. No queuing to get back to our seat after a change of ends. No queuing for toilet breaks. No queuing to buy food.
OK so there are some queues, particularly between matches, but if you’re OK to duck away from the tennis for a few games once the match has started you can avoid them.
I’m enjoying a lot of aspects of this tournament but on the down side, if you are frustrated by constant chatter from the crowd while the ball is in play, you’d better brace yourself! We’ve moved seats several times to get away from chatter heads, only to find that the people near the new seats are chattering too.
Back to the good bits, congrats to the team who put the Hopman Cup together and thanks to all the cheerful volunteers and to @hopmancup on twitter for the great updates and interaction that we’ve come to expect.
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal
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