Kristina Mladenovic at the 2017 Hopman Cup

The 2017 Hopman Cup starts this weekend with Kristina Mladenovic representing the French side in exhibition event.

The Hopman Cup is a combined men’s and women’s tournament that pairs an ATP player with a compatriot WTA player in a round-robin event. The biggest name in the tournament in 2017 is Roger Federer. Perhaps the biggest women’s name in the event was Petra Kvitova, however her injuries from last week’s shocking stabbing will keep her from participating in the Hopman Cup, an event which comes from Perth. Women players that are expected to be in the tournament include Kristina Mladenovic of France. She’ll be partnered with Richard Gasquet in what looks like a dangerous team.

Mladenovic enjoyed a solid season in 2016, a year where she turned 23 years old. Standing 6′ tall, she’s an opposing figure for her opponents, although one that is still looking for her first tour title. That won’t happen in Perth, as the Hopman Cup is exhibition. Last season at about this time she entered Brisbane and Sydney, however those events did not go well for her, perhaps a factor in her decision to play in Perth instead this year.

The French team will open their Hopman Cup schedule on Monday when they play against Germany in the day session. The German side features Andrea Petkovic and Alexander Zverev, certainly not a poor team in the field. Mladenovic faced Petkovic once last season, a match that the German won pretty easily in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.

The other WTA players in the Hopman Cup besides Mladenovic and Petkovic are Heather Watson of Great Britain, Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, Daria Gavrilova of Australia, Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic (she replaced Kvitova), Lara Arruabarrena of Spain, and Coco Vandeweghe of the United States. The tournament will run from January 1st to the 7th and, if you were to project a final, it would likely be the Australian team of Gavrilova and Nick Kyrgios against Belinda Bencic and Roger Federer, representing the Swiss. However, if Federer needs some matches to get back into hitting form, as anyone would after a lengthy layoff, then Mladenovic and Gasquet are a good pick to make the final for the event.

Shane Lambert