Australia beckons: ATP Cup first of 10 tournaments that herald Australian Open

Djokovic, Thiem, Rublev, Nadal bypass 16-team ATP Cup as players head to Sydney - Plus calendar and provisional line-ups for January

ATP Cup Australia
The Germany squad in Sydney (Photo: Getty Images for Tennis Australia)

It is not even a full month since Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev saw their homeland Russia emerge from 18 teams to claim the Davis Cup.

Now, with barely time to catch breath, many of the greatest players in tennis are converging in another corner of the globe, the southern states of Australia, for the build-up to the first Major of 2022 in little more than a fortnight’s time.

Before the spotlight settles on Melbourne for the Australian Open, however, there are no fewer than 10 events packed into the men’s and women’s schedule, with the first, and biggest, starting on the first day of the New Year: The ATP Cup.

This time, Russia is one of 16 teams, but this time, world No2 Medvedev cannot draw on the support of his high-ranked compatriots. The ATP Cup’s defending champions have been depleted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as Rublev and Karatsev tested positive before the tournament gets underway.

They are not the only players to have suffered Covid set-backs before Christmas. A catalogue of additional names has been added to the formidable list of those affected over the last two years: Denis Shapovalov, Emma Raducanu, Ons Jabeur, Belinda Bencic, Rafael Nadal, and most recently Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova have all been infected.

Other stalwarts of past Australia seasons are missing with ongoing injury issues, notably former Australian Open champions Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Stan Wawrinka, while nine-time and defending Australian champion and world No1, Novak Djokovic, has withdrawn from the ATP Cup and, at the time of writing, is yet to confirm whether he will make the Australia trip.

There are other high-profile champions on the absentee lists, too: Dominic Thiem continues to struggle with a long-standing wrist injury; Bianca Andreescu needs time away from competition; Karolina Pliskova sustained a hand injury in the off-season.

However, as the players practise in Sydney for the nine days of competition at the ATP Cup, Medvedev will know that he has his work cut out if Russia is to make the knock-out stages.

The 16 teams are built around the highest ranked players in their respective countries on 2 December, so while Djokovic has now withdrawn, Serbia still tops the line-up.

However, Medvedev heads Russia, world No3 Alexander Zverev leads Germany, and No4 Stefanos Tsitsipas tops the Greek squad.

But with some nations doubling up on top-20 players—Italy, Canada and Spain have more than one top man in their line-ups—and some key players unable to headline a national squad—Federer for Switzerland and Thiem for Austria, for example—some lower-placed nations have made the cut. So Georgia and the USA are in, while France grabs a late place courtesy of Austria’s absence, and Australia enjoys a wild card as the host nation.

So who are the strongest teams once those big guns have been dropped? Italy is the stand-out nation, with two top-10 men in Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner, plus two more men ranked over 40. Spain, even without Nadal, has two top-20 players, and could well take advantage of fellow group nations such as Casper Ruud’s Norway and Cristian Garin’s Chile, which have one top player apiece.

Then there is GB, led by one of the fastest risers of 2021, Cameron Norrie, plus No25 Daniel Evans, and a stand-out doubles pairing into the bargain. However, GB is grouped with Germany and a strong Canada—boasting No11 Felix Auger-Aliassime and No14 Shapovalov—and the USA—Taylor Fritz is ranked 23, John Isner No24—in perhaps the toughest set of four.

ATP Cup facts and figures

Dates

1-9 January: Ken Rosewall Arena and Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park.

From 7 January, QF, SF and Final all played at Ken Rosewall Arena.

Former champions

2020 Serbia

2021 Russia

Format

All ties will consist of two singles matches and one doubles match.

The No2 singles players will play first, followed by the No1 singles players.

Points and prizes

Rewards vary according to ranks of opponent.

Points for group-stage singles wins range from 90-15

Points for semi-final wins range from 200-30

Points for final win range from 280-40

Players can earn a maximum of 750 singles and 250 doubles rankings points

Winnings can range from $250,000 to $10,000 (plus participation fees)

Groups and players

Group A: begins 1 January

Serbia
[No1 Djokovic withdrawn]

Dusan Lajovic [No33]
Filip Krajinovic
Nikola Cacic
Matej Sabanov

Norway
Casper Ruud [No8]
Viktor Durasovic
Lukas Hellum-Lilleengen
Leyton Rivera
Andreja Petrovic

Chile
Cristian Garin [No17]
Alejandro Tabilo
Tomas Barrios Vera

Spain
Roberto Bautista Agut [No19]
Pablo Carreno Busta [No20]
Albert Ramos-Vinolas
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Pedro Martinez

Group B: begins 2 January

Russia

[No5 Rublev, No18 Karatsev withdrawn]

Daniil Medvedev [No2]
Roman Safiullin
Evgeny Karlovskiy

Italy
Matteo Berrettini [No7]
Jannik Sinner [No10]
Lorenzo Sonego
Simone Bolelli
Fabio Fognini

Australia (WC)
Alex de Minaur [No34]
James Duckworth
Max Purcell
John Peers
Luke Saville

France
Ugo Humbert [No35]
Arthur Rinderknech
Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Fabrice Martin

Group C: begins 2 January

Germany
Alexander Zverev [No3]
Jan-Lennard Struff
Yannick Hanfmann
Kevin Krawietz
Tim Puetz

Canada
Felix Auger-Aliassime [No11]
Denis Shapovalov [No14]
Brayden Schnur
Steven Diez

Great Britain
Cameron Norrie [No12]
Daniel Evans [No25]
Liam Broady
Joe Salisbury
Jamie Murray

United States
Taylor Fritz [No23]
John Isner [No24]
Brandon Nakashima
Rajeev Ram

Group D: begins 1 January

Greece
Stefanos Tsitsipas [No4]
Michail Pervolarakis
Petros Tsitsipas
Markos Kalovelonis
Aristotelis Thanos

Poland
Hubert Hurkacz [No9]
Kamil Majchrzak
Kacper Zuk
Jan Zielinski
Szymon Walkow

Argentina
Diego Schwartzman [No13]
Federico Delbonis
Federico Coria
Maximo Gonzalez
Andres Molteni

Georgia
Nikoloz Basilashvili [No22]
Aleksandre Metreveli
Aleksandre Bakshi
Zura Tkemaladze
Saba Purtseladze

Packed Australia calendar

1 January

ATP Cup [16 teams, 9 days, Sydney]: Medvedev, Berrettini, Zverev, Tsitsipas, Ruud, Garin, Bautista Agut, Auger-Aliassime, Norrie, Fritz, Schwartzman, Hurkacz, Basilashvili

3 January

WTA 500 Adelaide International 1: Barty, Sabalenka, Sakkari, Badosa, Swiatek, Kenin, Rybakina, Svitolina, Kvitova, Gauff, Fernandez, Azarenka

ATP250 Adelaide International 1: Monfils, Khachanov, Cilic, Tiafoe

WTA250 Melbourne x 2: Osaka, Pegula, Raducanu, Halep, Mertens, Kasatkina

ATP250 Melbourne: Nadal, Opelka, Dimitrov, Harris, Goffin

10 January

WTA250 Adelaide International 2: Svitolina, Gauff, Zidansek, Kudermetova

ATP250 Adelaide International 2: Monfils, Isner, Khachanov, Cilic, Harris, Bublik, Tiafoe

WTA500 Sydney Tennis Classic: Barty, Muguruza, Krejcikova, Sakkari, Kontaveit, Badosa, Swiatek, Jabeur, Kenin, Rybakina, Kerber, Kvitova, Pegula, Raducanu, Halep, Mertens, Bencic, Fernandez

ATP250 Sydney Tennis Classic: Garin, Karatsev, Bautista Agut, Basilashvili, Fritz, Evans

17 January

Australian Open

Roy Keane
Roy Keane names three players he’d keep at Man United
Martin Keown
Martin Keown wants to see Arsenal sign Adama Traore from Wolves
Gossip
Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool FC prepare £33.4m offer for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips - report
Gossip
Mikel Arteta
Juventus want Arsenal to include Thomas Partey in Arthur Melo deal - report
Gossip
Fabrizio Romano
Fabrizio Romano provides update on Chelsea FC search for January signing
Roy Keane
Roy Keane names three players he’d keep at Man United
Martin Keown
Martin Keown wants to see Arsenal sign Adama Traore from Wolves
Gossip
Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool FC prepare £33.4m offer for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips - report
Gossip
Mikel Arteta
Juventus want Arsenal to include Thomas Partey in Arthur Melo deal - report
Gossip
Fabrizio Romano
Fabrizio Romano provides update on Chelsea FC search for January signing
Slideshow
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature