After the turning of the New Year, the ATP World Tennis Tour is set to return. And the new decade brings exciting new events with it, including one big team styled event. The brand new ATP Cup in Australia debuts this week, featuring all but one of the world’s top 10.
So what is it? Starting Friday, the competition sees 24 nations compete against each other to be the first winners of the trophy. Countries have been divided into six groups of four, in which each team will play against the three opposing teams. Each tie is a best of three, across two singles matches and a doubles match. The six winning teams plus the two best runners up will qualify for the quarter finals where the competition will become knockout.
The event will be played across three of Australia’s most prestigious cities, with Groups A and F playing ties in Brisbane, B and D in Perth, and C and E in Sydney. The groups are the following:
Group A: Serbia, France, South Africa and Chile
Group B: Spain, Japan, Georgia and Uruguay
Group C: Belgium, Great Britain, Bulgaria and Moldova
Group D: Russia, Italy, USA and Norway
Group E: Austria, Croatia, Argentina and Poland
Group F: Germany, Greece, Canada and Australia
Suggesting they may be considered favourites, Spain having both their singles players in possession of top ten rankings.
The new competition is already boasting success prior to it’s start. An extraordinary nine of the world’s top 10 have committed to playing, contrasting greatly to the tour’s only other team styles event, the Davis Cup which runs at specific weekends all year round. Top players often skip Davis Cup weekends for rest.
Roger Federer is the only absentee from the world’s best ten, after he has chosen to spend time with his family. But the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and ATP World Tour Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas will all be battling out for the pride of their country over the next week. In fact Djokovic has publicly praised the ATP for this new feature in the 11 month long calendar. At the tournament’s launch in London he said: “We have a lot of incentives and the biggest one, I’m sure, is playing for your country. We have the Davis Cup, which has been the most historical team event, and now we have the ATP Cup, which is definitely going to be right up there in terms of the value from the players’ perspective.”
Andy Murray had to withdraw from the British team due to a pelvic injury, however captained by Tim Henman with nation still has a strong team. Ranked 42nd and 53rd in the world, Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie will play singles, whilst number one ranked doubles player Jamie Murray joins with Joe Salisbury whom he partnered at the ATP World Finals in London two months ago. James Ward replaces Murray in the team and will act as backup.
Britain start the event with a tie against Bulgaria Friday morning. Firstly Norrie will be expected to get the team off to a winning start as he faces world number 423 Dimitar Kuzmanov. Following this Evans will anticipate a tougher test against Grigor Dimitrov who is ranked 22 places higher than him. If the tie is poised at 1-1 Murray and Salisbury will have to beat the pairing of Alexandar Lazarov and Adrian Andreev.
Group F might be considered the most exciting group, which is set to see young guns Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, Alexander Zverev of Germany, Denis Shapovalov of Canada and Alex de Minaur is Australia all battle each other. With groups C, D and F all starting tomorrow, the morning’s action will also include world number 5 Daniil Medvedev of Russia take on number 12 Fognini of Italy.
The year’s singles tour will also kick-off in Doha this weekend, with the 2020 Qatar ExxonMobil Open. Stan Wawrinka tops the draw after Switzerland are not participating in the ATP Cup. Jo Wilfried Tsonga, Andrey Rublev and Milos Raonic will also feature in the event.