PERTH:Veteran Frenchman Arnaud Clement will partner Tatiana Golovin at the mixed teams Hopman Cup, starting on Saturday.
Golovin was to be partnered by explosive 21-year-old Gael Monfils, but he has succumbed to a knee problem and was forced to withdraw from the tournament, throwing his subsequent Australian Open campaign into doubt.
The big-hitting Monfils, who has battled several injuries during his short career, cited tendonitis in a knee when informing Hopman Cup officials of his decision.
Although seeded fourth for the Hopman Cup, the French duo of Golovin and Monfils had been considered a strong chance of upsetting the top-seeded Serbian duo of Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic.
However, the wily Clement is no stranger to Australian conditions.
The Swiss-based 30-year-old was an Australian Open finalist in 2001 and played at the Hopman Cup in 2002.
Clement is ranked 54th in singles, but won his first Grand Slam doubles title this year and is ranked 14th in the world in doubles, with the mixed doubles a crucial part of the unique Hopman Cup format.
France, which took part in the inaugural Hopman Cup in 1989, is yet to win the tournament in 14 attempts. Golovin and Jerome Haehnel just failed to reach the final in January after losing their final round-robin tie to Russia.
The French open their Hopman Cup campaign on Sunday against the Argentine pairing of Gisela Dulko and Juan Ignacio Chela.
Joining the French and Argentine teams in Group A are the Serbians, along with the Chinese Taipei team of Su-Wei Hsieh and Yen-Hsun Lu.
There have been lingering doubts over tournament drawcard Serena Williams taking part in the tournament due to injury, but the American champion has assured organisers she would be fit to partner Mardy Fish.