Nick Kyrgios has guaranteed himself some Australian Open match practice with a debut appearance at the Hopman Cup in Perth.
After being a late scratching last year with a back injury, Kyrgios has been confirmed to lead the Australia Green outfit as two local pairings feature in the mixed teams’ exhibition tournament for the first time in 30 years.
Retiring champion Lleyton Hewitt and Casey Dellacqua will form the Australia Gold team, with officials yet to find a partner for Kyrgios for the January 3-9 Open warm-up event.
With the threat of a 28-day suspension from the ATP Tour hanging over his head, Kyrgios would be banned from official Open lead-up tournaments in Brisbane, Chennai, Doha, Auckland and Sydney if he accrues fines totalling $US3500 ($A4820) in his final two outings of 2015 in Valencia and Paris.
But the two-time grand slam quarter-finalist is now assured of at least three singles and doubles matches in a solid start to the Australian summer.
As well as Hewitt and Kyrgios, the Hopman Cup has attracted world No.2 Andy Murray, flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils and rising American star Jack Sock.
“I didn’t get to play this year so I’m really looking forward to just being healthy and getting out there,” Kyrgios said.
“My good friend Thanasi (Kokkinakis) has played there and he told me it’s one of the best places he’s ever played at.
“I really enjoy that sort of atmosphere. It’s serious but, at times, it’s all about the fun and obviously playing for the crowd, so I really enjoy that.”
In another coup for tournament director Paul Kilderry, women’s world No.1 Serena Williams, a dual winner of the Hopman Cup, has opted to return to Perth once again to launch her new season.
The six-times Australian Open champion will team up with Sock as the Americans start favourites to land a seventh Hopman Cup title.
“Perth definitely started something quite amazing, so I think it’s only natural and fair and reasonable that I go back to Perth,” said Williams, who reached the 2015 final with John Isner.
“We were so close to winning last year. I’m really excited to be back. For me, the Hopman Cup is super great preparation for the Australian Open.”
Other leading women’s drawcards in 2016 include Germany’s former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic and Heather Watson partnering Murray for Great Britain.
2015 HOPMAN CUP PAIRINGS:
* Australia Gold: Lleyton Hewitt and Casey Dellacqua
* Australia Green: Nick Kyrgios and TBA
* USA: Jack Sock and Serena Williams
* Great Britain: Andy Murray and Heather Watson
* France: Gael Monfils and Caroline Garcia
* Czech Republic: Jiri Veseley and Lucie Safarova
* Germany: Alexander Zverev and Sabine Lisicki
* Ukraine: Alexandr Dolgopolov and Elina Svitolina