And it promises to begin with a bang, as the biggest stars and most prolific champions in men’s tennis—Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic—headline this nation-based event in its debut. What is more, their long-injured fellow former No1, Andy Murray, will continue his return from major surgery courtesy of his protected No2 ranking.
Indeed, the ATP has announced that the entire top 10, and 27 of the current top 30, have already committed to the 19 confirmed teams, with further top-50 players scheduled to join them when the next five ranked nations are determined on 13 November (following the conclusion of the 2019 ATP calendar).
And with the draw now made, those top three stars and their fans have discovered where they will open their ATP Cup campaigns:
· Djokovic will lead Serbia in the pool stages in Brisbane, alongside Alexander Zverev’s Germany;
· Nadal will top Spain’s campaign in Perth, with new world No4 Daniil Medvedev heading the Russian team; and
· Federer will headline the Swiss challenge in Sydney, together with Dominic Thiem’s Austria.
The knock-out quarter-finals will then all be played in Sydney.
(plus wild card for host nation)
1 Serbia: Djokovic, Dusan Lajovic
2 Spain: Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut
3 Switzerland: Federer, Henri Laaksonen
4 Russia: Medvedev, Karen Khachanov
5 Austria: Thiem, Dennis Novak
6 Germany: Zverev, Jan-Lennard Struff
7 Greece: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Michail Pervolarakis
8 Japan: Kei Nishikori, Yoshihito Nishioka
9 Italy: Fabio Fognini, Matteo Berrettini
10 France: Gael Monfils, Benoit Paire
11 Belgium: David Goffin, Steve Darcis
12 Croatia: Borna Coric, Marin Cilic
13 Argentina: Diego Schwartzman, Guido Pella
14 Georgia: Nikoloz Basilashvili, Aleksandre Metreveli
15 South Africa: Kevin Anderson, Lloyd Harris
16 USA: John Isner, Taylor Fritz
17 Canada: Felix Auger-Aliassime, Milos Raonic
18 GB: Murray, Kyle Edmund
Wild card, Australia: Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur
Group A, Serbia, France, South Africa, plus ANOther
Group F, Germany, Greece, Canada, Australia
Group B, Spain, Japan, Georgia, plus ANOther
Group D, Russia, Italy, USA, plus ANOther
Group C, Switzerland, Belgium, GB, plus ANOther
Group E, Austria, Croatia, Argentina, plus ANOther
Five nations will complete the 24-country line-up in November. Next by ranking are currently:
Bulgaria (Grigor Dimitrov)
Chile (Cristian Garin)
Poland (Hubert Hurkacz)
Moldova (Radu Albot)
Uruguay (Pablo Cuevas)
Kazakhstan (Mikhail Kukushkin)
Czech Rep (Tomas Berdych)
Norway (Caspar Ruud)
The Perth line-up boasts three particularly strong nations. Spain features No2 Nadal with No10 Bautista Agut, while Russia has No4 Medvedev alongside No9 Khachanov. Italy boasts No11 Fognini with No13 Berrettini.
Other teams that have two top-30 players include Serbia, France, Croatia, Argentina, the USA and Canada, while GB and Australia only just miss out, with de Minaur ranked 31 and Edmund 32.
Notable missing players are Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka, ranked 19, Dimitrov, ranked 25—though Bulgaria may join the 24 nations come November—and Lucas Pouille, ranked 26—though he is likely to become France’s third singles player when the teams are finalised in November.
The top two players for each country have committed to play, subject to changes by the rankings deadline of 13 November, when the remaining team members will gain acceptance.
A minimum of three ranked players, including two members with singles rankings, are required for a country to be eligible. A country may have up to five players, but if a team has five players, at least three must have a singles ranking. If there are fewer than five players, a team must have at least two players with a singles ranking.
A player from a country that has already qualified, but who is overtaken by a countryman in the ATP rankings and slips out of contention, may withdraw from the team at the second entry deadline. Players may also withdraw due to injury, illness or other grounds.
· The 24 teams are divided into six groups of four for round-robin play.
· The six winners of each group plus the two best second-placed nations across all the groups will advance to the eight-country knockout stage.
· Each tie will comprise two singles and one doubles match.
· Singles will be best-of-three tie-break sets, doubles will use No-Ad scoring and a match tie-break in lieu of a third set.
· There is a day session (10am local time) and an evening session (5.30pm local time) each day per venue.
· The first singles matches are between the No2 players in each tie, followed by the No1 players, with the doubles to follow. All doubles matches will be played regardless of whether the tie is decided after the two singles matches.
· Round-robin stages will begin on Friday 3 January, with quarter-finals played across two sessions on 9-10 January, semi-finals on 11 January (also in a day and night session), and the final at 5.30pm on 12 January.
· Each team will have a captain, selected by the No1 singles player in consultation with their team members. The No1 singles player will be the captain if one is be selected. The captain must be of the same nationality and must be a Division 1 player, an ATP coach or a qualified coach of a national federation.
· An undefeated player who wins all possible singles matches can earn 750 points, while an undefeated doubles player can earn 250 points. The amount of points awarded for singles matches depends on the ranking of the opponent and the round in which the match is played.
· The purse for the ATP Cup is $15 million, and comprises three different components: participation fee, prize money for match-wins, and prize money for tie victories. Participation can earn from between $250K for a top-ranked singles player and $20K for a player ranked 200-300. Singles match wins begin at $27,600 for group stages, up to $290K for a final match-win.
· For more detail on how points and prize money are distributed, see the ATP Cup site.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge