ATP says ‘Big Four’ committed to inaugural ATP Cup in January

(Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have all committed to play in the inaugural ATP Cup in Australia next January, in a significant boost for the new nation-based event.

The ATP announced the first 19 countries to qualify for the team tournament following the first-round deadline last Friday. Qualification is based on the current ATP men’s singles rankings, although host Australia has been given a wild card. Great Britain has qualified by virtue of Andy Murray’s protected ranking of number two in the world.

The ATP said every member of the top 10 in the men’s rankings and 27 out of the top 30 players have committed to the $15m (€14m) tournament which will take place in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from January 3-12 2020.

Five further teams will be added after the second entry deadline on November 13 taking the number of teams to 24 overall. Teams will be allowed up to five players with their qualification determined by their world ranking after the November deadline.

The group stages of the AUD$22m/US$15m ATP Cup, which is being staged in partnership with Tennis Australia, will be hosted in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney over six days. Eight countries will then play at the ATP Cup Final Eight in Sydney that will feature quarter-finals over two days, semi-finals and a final. Each tie will comprise of two singles and one doubles match.

The inaugural ATP Cup will be held just six weeks after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) launches it own revamped Davis Cup team event in November. At one stage the ATP held discussions with the ITF to launch a joint team competition before the ATP player council voted to launch the separate ATP Cup event. It has long been thought that the proximity of the two competitions in the packed calendar might force players to choose one event over the other to avoid burn-out.

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev have all expressed reservations about the ITF project. Federer would, however, have been ineligible to play in this year’s Davis Cup because Switzerland has not qualified.

In a statement, ATP executive chairman Chris Kermode said: “Our belief was that week one in the calendar, together with Tennis Australia, would work best for player scheduling, and today’s announcement is a confirmation of that. Having the top players competing in this new global event is critical, and the ATP Cup looks set to kick off the ATP Tour season in a big way in 2020.”

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