Robredo hopes for second Hopman Cup title
PERTH: As the only previous winner in the field, Spain's Tommy Robredo hopes his experience in the unique format of the mixed teams Hopman Cup will be an advantage when the tournament starts on Saturday.
The world No.16 will be making his fourth appearance here and is teamed with experienced countrywoman Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, ranked 26th, the pair looking to give Spain its third Hopman Cup title and first since 2002.
The 27-year-old was just a teenager when he debuted at the Hopman Cup in 2002, teaming with veteran Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to snatch the title.
Robredo said it was hard to predict how the fourth-seeded Spaniards would fare in the opening tournament of the year, but he hoped they would do well.
"It is difficult to say because it is the first week of the year and nobody knows how the other players are going," he said.
"If you are in shape at the beginning, maybe you have the luck to win the matches and make the final.
"Also, it is the mixed, if you win one singles and lose the other singles, the mixed is the decider and you never know who it is going to be.
"But Maria Jose and I are good players and we can play good in our singles and also in the doubles, so we will try to mix it up and win two matches every day."
The Spanish pair should acquit themselves well in the often deciding mixed doubles rubbers, with Robredo ranked 20th in doubles and the 27-year-old Martinez Sanchez ranked 25th.
"It is the last point and it is important if we are one-all," Robredo said of the mixed doubles.
"She is a great player in doubles and I like to play doubles."
Their first challenge is the US team of Melanie Oudin and John Isner on Sunday in their Group A tie.
Also in Group A under the round robin format of the Hopman Cup is the top-seeded Australian pairing of Samantha Stosur and Lleyton Hewitt.
Heading Group B is second seeds Russia, with world No.5 Elena Dementieva and Igor Andreev, while world No.4 Andy Murray, teamed with teenager Laura Robson, leads the British challenge and is the highest ranked man in the Hopman Cup.
Robredo was reluctant to name the top team in the tournament.
"There are a lot of teams to beat," he said.
"Russia have Dementieva, who is a great player, and Andreev, who is a great player as well.
"Britain has Murray, Australia have great players, Hewitt plays well in the mixed as well and Samantha is a great player in mixed and doubles.
"Everybody can be dangerous."
Also in Group A are Romanians Sorana Cirstea and Victor Hanescu.
Group B includes Germans Sabine Lisicki and Philipp Kolschreiber, and outsiders Kazakhstan, represented by Yarolsava Shvedova and Andrey Golubev.
The top two teams from each group after the round robin phase will meet in the Hopman Cup final on Saturday, January 9.