Roger Federer will kick off Hopman Cup 2018, Kokkinakis replaces Kyrgios

Tood Woodbridge and Paul Kilderry with the Hopman Cup.
Tood Woodbridge and Paul Kilderry with the Hopman Cup.

SWISS tennis legend Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic will kick off opening night of the Hopman Cup against Japan on December 30 at Perth Arena.

The Fed Express, again the tournament drawcard along with Bencic, will play team Japan, while Australia will play its first match on Sunday December 31.

Grand Slam doubles champion Todd Woodbridge helped kickoff this year’s launch along with tournament director Paul Kilderry who announced it would feature one of the strongest fields, including three top 10 players.

“As a young boy growing up in Perth, there was nothing better than getting along to the Hopman Cup and watching the stars of the game play,” Kilderry said.

“It is one of the strongest fields ever including three top 10 players, three grand slam singles champions, six current top-20 players and 10 current top-40 players.”

“We are thrilled to welcome back Roger Federer, we didn’t quite know what we were going to get as far as his play (last year).

“He hadn’t played for six months and we saw him three weeks later holding up the trophy of the Australian Open.

“We chased Roger to come to the Hopman Cup for years and years and couldn’t quite get him and this year for him to call us and say he’d love to come back is a real tick for the tournament.”

Making up Group A are Germany, Belgium, Canada and Australia while Group B includes USA, Russia, Switzerland and Japan.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber will represent Germany, alongside sizzling young gun and current world No.4 Alexander Zverev.

Russia will be represented by Grand Slam champion and world No.9 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who pairs up with rising male star Karen Khachanov.

Australia will be represented by 2016 champion and world No.22 Daria Gavrilova, joined by Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Belgium’s number one and world No.11 David Goffin will team up with Hobart International champion Elise Mertens.

Former world No.7 Eugenie Bouchard and Wimbledon doubles champion Vasek Pospisil will play for Canada.

America’s world No.24 Jack Sock and world No.16 Coco Vandeweghe are back and rounding out the field are Yuichi Sugita and Naomi Osaka, marking Japan’s return to the event after a 16-year hiatus.

Gavrilova said she loved coming back to Perth and was excited for the opportunity to hang out with Federer again.

Federer said he was looking forward to teaming up with Bencic and enjoying the Perth hospitality.

“We have such a great time on and off the court together,” he said.

“Playing tennis on the beach, meeting a lot of people, the New Year’s Eve party with my wife and Belinda Bencic and all the other players that was very relaxing.

“I was the best bongo player in the stadium and I hope you can come to stadium and support us.”

The tournament will feature 13 sessions across eight days and finish on January 6, for tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au.