Hopman Cup organisers to watch US Open as Sam Stosur books Brisbane
HOPMAN Cup director Paul McNamee will keep an eager eye on Jarmila Groth and her fellow Australians when the US Open begins in New York on Monday, as he attempts to fill the massive hole left in the Perth tournament's line-up after Australia's No. 1 women's player Sam Stosur opted to play in Queensland instead.
Stosur said she would begin her 2011 campaign at the Brisbane International, which clashes with the January 1-8 Hopman Cup, as she looks to build on a year which included her maiden grand slam final appearance at the French Open and her rise to a career-high No. 5 world ranking.
Belgian seven-time grand slam champion Justine Henin headlines a list of five major title winners for Hopman Cup XXIII, the strongest field in the event's history, with two of the eight teams yet to be named.
Lleyton Hewitt will again lead Australia's hunt for only its second tournament title against the US, Serbia, Belgium, France and Kazakhstan, but his partner has not been announced.
McNamee said while Stosur's presence would be missed, he was not surprised the Queenslander chose home over Perth.
"It's understandable because she's from Brisbane and we're very happy we've had Sam twice and that we had her this year," he said.
"I guess we were fairly prepared for that (Sam choosing Brisbane) and to be honest, it's a trip down memory lane with Lleyton Hewitt missing a few years and choosing to play in Adelaide, which is understandable."
Jelena Dokic went from possible replacement to ruled out after her 15-match winning streak was brought to an abrupt end on Friday with a 6-1 6-4 US Open qualifiers loss to Briton Laura Robson, runner-up at the 2009 Hopman Cup alongside Australian Open finalist Andy Murray.
Dokic had won three straight second-tier challenger events before arriving in New York.
McNamee denied Hopman Cup had already chased a replacement in the expectation Stosur would not compete the tournament and earmarked Groth as the likely substitute.
"The next step was clearly, once we knew Sam wasn't playing, to see how the US Open played out and see how all the women go," McNamee said. "To be honest, one is down already, Jelena Dokic, who was a possibility.
"(Anastacia) Rodionova is still there, she plays Sam (Stosur) in the second round.
"Jarmila Groth is our No.2 right now and unless someone has an amazing US Open, she'll still be our No.2.
"She's Australia's No.2 ranked player right now, behind Sam Stosur, so all things being equal, she would be the one I go to."
Groth's US Open hunt hit a snag before it begun this week as she was drawn to face in-form 2006 champion Maria Sharapova first up.
Jarka at the Hopman cup would be