Who Will Win the 2016 Hopman Cup?November 16, 2015

The 28th edition of the Hopman Cup, to be held from January 3 to 9, will feature a couple of firsts. Australia will field two teams, while Ukraine makes its first appearance in this indoor hardcourt tennis tournament. Agnieszka Radwańska and Jerzy Janowicz won't come to Perth to defend their title. (The latest ATP and WTA rankings will determine which countries can compete in this mixed-gender event. Poland might have to wait for another year.) On a bittersweet note, this will be Lleyton Hewitt's final appearance at the Perth Arena. The Australian Open, which will be played three weeks later, will be his final tournament. It will be nice for Hewitt and Casey Dellacqua to give the host nation its second Hopman Cup, but their chances are rather slim.

Let's take a look at the groups:

Group A: Australia (Green), France, Germany, and Great Britain

Andy Murray and Heather Watson made their debut early this year. They failed to advance to the finals, but it won't be the case next year. Don't be surprised if Great Britain will be the fourteenth country to win the tournament.

Team Australia has yet to reveal their second team, but it will be a choice between Sam Stosur and Jarmila Gajdošová. Either one will team up with Nick Kyrgios. It's hard to tell if this tandem will finish at first place. Good form (or the lack of it) will be the reason, but they can win a match or two.

Gaël Monfils and Caroline Garcia will represent France. There's no doubt about their capability of winning the event, but Monfils is a temperamental player. The German Tennis Federation chose Alexander Zverev and Sabine Lisicki. They can challenge Murray and Watson, where the mixed doubles match will be the decider. Experience will put Murray and Watson into the finals.

Group B: Australia (Gold), Czech Republic, Ukraine, and United States

Hewitt and Dellacqua will find themselves in last place. The winner of this group will be known after the final mixed doubles match.

Lucie ŠafáÅ™ová can guide her less-experienced partner, JiÅ™í Veselý, but the Czech team will have their hands full against Elina Svitolina and Alexandr Dolgopolov. The Ukrainian team can beat anyone despite their modest ranking. Good form, and a little luck, might see them in first place. What about the United States?

America is the six-time winner of the event, the most by any nation. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) selected Jack Sock and Serena Williams. A second straight appearance in the finals is a possibility. Williams, six-time winner of the Australian Open, skipped the Asian swing. She didn't defend her WTA Finals title. Motivation might be a factor, as well as a possible injury or two.

Here's the prediction: Great Britain and USA will compete against each other in the finals. Murray and Watson will prevail over Sock and Williams. /

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