Switzerland will be the top seeded team at next year's Hopman Cup mixed tennis tournament, with world number one Martina Hingis partnering Swiss men's number one Roger Federer.
In the group stage of the competition, Hingis and Federer will take on the defending champions South Africa (Amanda Coetzer, Wayne Ferreira), home favourites Australia (Nicole Pratt, Mark Philippoussis) and last year's losing finalists Thailand (Tamarine Tanasugarn, Paradom Srichapan).
The Russian pair of Marat Safin and Elena Likhovtseva will be seeded second for the tournament, heading a second group which includes the United States (Jan-Michael Gambill, Monica Seles) and Slovakia (Dominik Hrbaty, Karina Habsudova).
Federer will be the third man to partner Hingis at the annual event held in Perth, Australia. In 1996 a 15-year-old Hingis was joined by Marc Rosset, a partnership which took Switzerland all the way to a controversial final.
After Hingis had beaten Iva Majoli in the women's singles and Rosset had lost to Goran Ivanisevic in the men's, the stage was set for a thrilling decider in the doubles.
But when things turned against the Swiss in the final set, Rosset lashed out at an advertising board in frustration, breaking a bone in his hand in the process. With the Genevan player unable to continue, Switzerland were forced to concede the final 2-1.
Two years ago Hingis contested the tournament with Ivo Heuberger, but the pair were unable to progress beyond the group stage where they beat the USA but lost to Sweden and Slovakia.
The competition has been running for 12 years and has been won by Switzerland just once. Current Swiss Davis Cup captain Jakob Hlasek and Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere secured victory in 1992 with a 2-1 win over Czechoslovakia.
swissinfo with agencies