Sydney, Oct 16 (UNI) The surprise package of last year's Hopman Cup, India, has been confirmed as the fourth team of the 20th edition starting in Perth on December 29, event director Paul McNamee announced today.
Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna, representing India were the surprise package at the previous eight-nation Hopman Cup, beating Croatia and the Czech Republic in the group stage before losing to Spain in the semi-finals.
India were undefeated in the mixed doubles and their sparkling form led the decision to give them direct entry in the tournament.
Tournament Director Paul McNamee said, ''I am delighted to invite India directly into the field. It's just reward for their challenge last year and for Sania's considerable progress this year.'' Sania Mirza, who holds the distinction of being the first Indian woman to be seeded in a Grand Slam tennis tournament -- 26th in the 2007 US Open -- will be rearing to have a go at the tournament, to improve her ranking which has fallen from her career best of 27th to 30th.
Rohan Bopanna, who moved seven places up to 79th position in the doubles ATP rankings, has been invited because of his brilliant form in the mixed doubles category at last year's Hopman.
India joins Serbia, the Czech Republic and France as confirmed starters.