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A new nations tournament all set to take off

You see, mates...Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked player, is thrilled at playing in the innovative tournament starting in three Australian cities on Friday.

You see, mates...Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked player, is thrilled at playing in the innovative tournament starting in three Australian cities on Friday.  

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Djokovic says the event, featuring 24 countries, will truly make an impact

The ATP Cup, the 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 event 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 rest of the world.

But it has already suffered setbacks, with major Roger Federer opting to give it a miss and Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori pulling out injured. However, most of the world’s top 30 are playing.

Despite this, World No. 2 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% of the time, we’re playing as individuals and we don’t have too many team events,” said the Serbian, 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 final, along with group games, which are also held in Brisbane and Perth with $15 million in prize money and up to 750 singles and 250 doubles ATP rankings points at stake.

With bushfires raging around Sydney and elsewhere in the country, tournament director Tom Larner said officials were ready in the event of air quality problems. The championship, from January 3-12, will feature two ties each day in the three cities during the round robin, comprising two singles matches then a doubles.

Under the format, the second-ranked singles players from each country face each other first, then the top-ranked men ahead of a potentially decisive doubles. A country winning two of three matches will claim the tie.

As well as the players, some big-name former stars are captaining their countries, including Boris Becker (Germany), Marat Safin (Russia), Tim Henman (Britain), Lleyton Hewitt (Australia), and Thomas Muster (Austria).

The groupings: Group A (Brisbane): Serbia, France, South Africa, Chile; Group B (Perth): Spain, Japan, Georgia, Uruguay; Group C (Sydney): Bulgaria, Belgium, Great Britain, Moldova; Group D (Perth): Russia, Italy, USA, Norway; Group E (Sydney): Austria, Croatia, Argentina, Poland; Group F (Brisbane): Germany, Greece, Canada, Australia.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 7:05:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/a-new-nations-tournament-all-set-to-take-off/article30453471.ece

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