Tennis’ innovative new team championship kicks off the men’s 2020 season on Friday, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic among those looking for a winning start ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.
The ATP Cup will see 24 nations split into six groups across three Australian cities, with eight teams emerging from the round-robin to compete in a knockout phase until one country is left standing.
It is the sport’s newest tournament and the third men’s team event competing for the hearts and minds, and dollars, of fans, along with a revamped Davis Cup and the annual Laver Cup, which pits Europe against the World.
But it has already suffered setbacks, with major drawcard Roger Federer opting to give it a miss and Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori pulling out injured.
Despite this, world number two Djokovic said the move towards more team tennis was good for a sport best known for the individuality of its global superstars.
“More than 90 percent of the time, we’re playing as individuals and we don’t have too many team events,” said the Serbian great, who also heads the ATP player council.
“This is going to bring together a lot of nations and, for me personally, it will be a very nice and proud moment to represent my country. An event like this is truly going to make an impact.”
Sydney hosts the finals, along with group games, which are also held in Brisbane and Perth with US 15 million in prize money and up to 750 singles and 250 doubles ATP rankings points at stake.
Australian star Nick Kyrgios agrees with Djokovic, believing it will be “an awesome event”.
“I know everyone on the Tour wants to be with their teammates. There’s nothing better than playing for your country against the other best players in the world,” he said.