Djokovic, Nadal headline virus-hit ATP Cup
World number one Novak Djokovic and second-ranked Rafael Nadal will headline a slimmed-down field at the Covid-19-hit ATP Cup, organisers said, with the tournament cut in half to 12 teams.
06 January 2021 | Sports
The innovative ATP Cup championship debuted across three Australian cities - Perth, Brisbane and Sydney - in January last year with 24 nations split into six groups ahead of a final’s series.
Novak Djokovic's Serbia emerged triumphant, overpowering Rafael Nadal's Spain to win the inaugural title.
But the onslaught of Covid-19 forced a radical change to how the 2021 season will look, with the Australian Open pushed back three weeks to 8 February.
Players will arrive in Australia from 15 January and undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine before the ATP Cup is held alongside two WTA 500 and two ATP 250 events, all in Melbourne in the week leading into the Grand Slam.
Teams qualified for the ATP Cup based on men's singles rankings, with Austria, Russia, Greece, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Japan, France and Canada making the grade.
Australia was included as host nation, but without showman Nick Kyrgios, who was not on the team sheet.
Top 10 to shine
All of the world's top 10 players will take part, except Roger Federer who has pulled out of the Australian Open for the first time in his career as he continues his recovery from two rounds of knee surgery.
ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev headlines a strong Russian team alongside fellow top 10-star Andrey Rublev, while world number three Dominic Thiem will try to take Austria to glory.
"The players are looking forward to stepping up and representing their countries again, and the field, including defending champions Serbia and finalists Spain, is strong," tournament director Tom Larner said.
"This is a format that shows off the passion of the players and we're expecting some spectacular tennis action."
The 12 teams will be divided into four groups of three, with the winners of each group contesting the knock-outs and the four remaining progressing to the semi-finals.
Each tie will be comprised of two singles matches and one doubles. The draw will be made on 20 January ahead of the tournament starting on 1 February.
The teams are:
Serbia (Djokovic, Dusan Lajovic, Filip Krajinovic, Nikola Cacic)
Argentina (Diego Schwartzman, Guido Pella, Horacio Zeballos, Maximo Gonzalez)
Spain (Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, Marcel Granollers, Pablo Carreno Busta)
Italy (Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini, Simone Bolelli, Andrea Vavassori)
Austria (Thiem, Dennis Novak, Philipp Oswald, Tristan-Samuel Weissborn)
Japan (Kei Nishikori, Yoshihito Nishioka, Ben McLachlan, Toshihide Matsui)
Russia (Medvedev, Rublev, Aslan Karatsev, Evgeny Donskoy)
France (Gael Monfils, Benoit Paire, Nicolas Mahut, Edouard Roger-Vasselin)
Greece (Stefanos Tsitsipas, Michail Pervolarakis, Markos Kalovelonis, Petros Tsitsipas)
Canada (Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic, Peter Polansky, Steven Diez)
Germany (Alexander Zverev, Jan-Lennard Struff, Kevin Krawietz, Andreas Mies)
Australia (Alex de Minaur, John Millman, John Peers, Luke Saville)