Tennis: Withdrawals leave Hopman Cup open

Dated: 2013-12-28

PERTH: The late withdrawals of Poland's rising star Jerzy Janowicz and Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo have thrown wide open Perth's Hopman Cup which starts Saturday.

The Polish pairing of Janowicz and Agnieszka Radwanska were the top seeds for the Aus$1 million (US$890,000) mixed teams tournament, but the world number 21 withdrew with a foot injury.

He has been replaced by little known countryman Grzegorz Panfil, ranked 288th in the world, in the opening event of the Australian summer, which begins preparations for the year's first Grand Slam, the Australian Open.

Meanwhile, the rejuvenated Robredo, a two-time winner in Perth, withdrew just 24 hours out from the event on Friday with an arm injury, and has been replaced by Daniel Munoz-De La Nava, ranked 194th in the world.

Munoz-De La Nava is the 17th-ranked male Spaniard in world tennis, and will be partnered by defending champion Anabel Medina Garrigues, who won the event with Fernando Verdasco earlier this year.

"I was excited to play the Hopman Cup but an injury to my arm has given me no choice but to withdraw from the event," Robredo said.

"I wish I could be there to play with Anabel and help defend the title for Spain."

The Hopman Cup has rarely been predictable in its 25-year history and the absence of Janowicz is a major blow to Radwanska’s hopes of getting her hands on one of the unique diamond-encrusted tennis balls presented to the winners as Poland makes their debut in the tournament.

The world number five is likely to need to win all her singles matches in the group ties, which will not be easy against the likes of Italian Flavia Pennetta, Australia's Samantha Stosur and promising Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

Then she and Panfil will need to thrive in the rare challenge of mixed doubles that makes the Hopman Cup such an unusual tournament.

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