PERTH, Australia (AP) Roger Federer has committed to starting the 2018 season at the Hopman Cup, the international mixed-team tournament where he'll team up again with Belinda Bencic for Switzerland.
The 35-year-old Federer has cut back on the number of tournaments he plays in order to prolong his career, and skipped the recent clay court season recently to concentrate on Wimbledon.
He played with Bencic at the last Hopman Cup and it proved an ideal tune-up for the Australian Open, where he beat Rafael Nadal in the final to end a personal Grand Slam drought stretching back to Wimbledon in 2012.
''It was the perfect preparation because I was in a good mindset,'' Federer said of the buildup to winning his 18th major title. ''When I went to Melbourne, I could really look back on some great preparation and I think that's what also made me win the Australian Open.''
The French team of Kristina Mladenovic and Richard Gasquet beat Federer and Bencic to seal a spot in last year's Hopman Cup final, then beat U.S. pair CoCo Vandeweghe and Jack Sock to win the title.
More than 6,000 people attended Federer's first practice session last year in Perth, a crowd he described as ''surreal.'' The Switzerland-France match attracted a tournament record 13,917 fans.