pics from the hopman cup new year’s eve ball

New Year’s Day landed smack-dab in the middle of the 2008 Hopman Cup calendar, so there was no doubt that they’d throw a good party to celebrate.

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This year’s organizers chose a nautical theme, with 750 guests boarding the “Hopman Princess” for the gala. Tournament Director Paul McNamee surprised everyone with his Love Boat attire (a costume he kept under wraps, even to his wife). To those who came in more formal garb, like French team member Arnaud Clement (above), they provided leis to spice up the crowd.

Of course, no tennis gala would be complete without its charity component. This event’s beneficiaries were the Variety Club and the Kids Tennis Foundation, who’ll split the 35K raised from an auction (items bid on: racquets from Serena Williams and Roger Federer, original artwork from Martina Navratilova and Juraj Kralik, a 2008 Australian Open package, etc.).

Scores: The Serbians (after beating Argentinians Gisela Dulko and Juan Ignacio Chela) will face Mardy Fish and Serena in the final. The Americans won in the semis over Alicia Molik and Peter Luczak. Jelena suffered an upper leg strain in an early match and hasn’t quite recovered. Meanwhile, Nole’s back problems have carried over from last season. Who’s going to take the title?

Take a peek: Player pics from the event (Serena, Tatiana, Lucie and Tomas, Nole and Jelena, Sania and Rohan, etc.) after the cut…