Seles returns to Hopman Cup after 10-year absence

PERTH, Australia – Monica Seles returns to the Hopman Cup mixed team event on Saturday after a 10-year absence still believing she can get back to the top of the women’s game.

The 27-year-old American will become the first player to represent two countries after combining with Goran Prpic for her native Yugoslavia to help defeat the United States in the 1991 final.

Seles lost her ranking as outright world number one in 1993, the year she was forced out of the game after being stabbed by a fan of Steffi Graf at the Hamburg Open. Although Seles enjoyed a protected joint-ranking of world number one in 1995 on her return to the WTA circuit, her best outright performance came this year when she finished world number four.

Seles finished runner-up to Martina Hingis in the season-ending Chase Championships after a consistent year during wich she reached the quarter-finals or better in all 10 events she played.

“Last season was really tough, but to play so well and finish so strongly gives me great encouragement for the New Year,” Seles said on Friday.

“It has always been my goal to be number one again and if I produce the result I had last year I can be in contention.

“What I need to do now is to start beating the top two or three players, like Martina, Lindsay (Davenport) and the Williams sisters, on a regular basis.

“I have enjoyed a good holiday in the last few weeks, but I am still in shape and, mentally, I am staying positive. Each year it becomes more challenging, but I know that I want to win everything I can.”

Seles will partner Jan-Michael Gambill for the third-seeded Americans, who have been drawn in group B. They will face the Slovak Republic, a Marat Safin-inspired Russia, and either Japan or Belgium in the round-robin event.

Japan and Belgium play off for a place in the main draw on Saturday. Group A features top seeds Switzerland, represented by women’s world number one Hingis, and Roger Federer plus Australia, Thailand and defending champions South Africa.