The new era of tennis begins with the ATP Cup

Sydney, January 1 (AFP) The innovative tennis championship of the new team starts the 2020 men's season on Friday, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic among those looking for a winning start before the first Grand Slam of the year.

The ATP Cup will see 24 nations divided into six groups in three Australian cities, with eight teams leaving the round robin to compete in a knockout phase until one country stands.

It is the newest sport tournament and the third men's team event that competes for the hearts, minds and dollars of fans, along with a renewed Davis Cup and the annual Laver Cup, which faces Europe against the World.

But he has already suffered setbacks, with the great robbery Roger Federer opting to fail and Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori retired injured.

Despite this, world number two Djokovic said the movement towards more team tennis was good for a sport better known for the individuality of its world superstars.

More than 90 percent of the time, we play as individuals and we don't have too many team events, said the great Serbian, who also heads the ATP's player council.

This will bring together many nations and, for me personally, it will be a very pleasant and proud moment to represent my country. An event like this is really going to have an impact.

Sydney hosts the finals, along with the group games, which are also held in Brisbane and Perth with a cash prize of US $ 15 million and up to 750 singles and 250 ATP ranking points in play.

Australian star Nick Kyrgios agrees with Djokovic, believing it will be an incredible event.

I know that everyone on the Tour wants to be with their teammates. There is nothing better than playing for your country against the other best players in the world, he said.

- Looking to the future -

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While Federer, Nishikori and Murray are missing, most of the 30 best men in the world are playing.

The championship, from January 3 to 12, will have two draws each day in the three cities during the round robin, which includes two individual matches and then a double.

Belgium starts Sydney's action against Moldova before Britain faces Bulgaria. Kyrgios leads Australia's local hopes in Brisbane against Germany led by Alexander Zverev, while Greece faces Canada in the same city.

First in Perth will be the United States against Norway, followed by Russia and Italy.

Djokovic makes his debut in the tournament in Brisbane for Serbia on the second day, as does the Spanish world number one, Nadal, in Perth.

Depending on the format, individual second-place players from each country face first, then the top-ranked men before a potentially decisive double.

A country that wins two of three matches will claim the tie.

In addition to the players, some former renowned stars are captaining their countries, including Boris Becker (Germany), Marat Safin (Russia), Tim Henman (Great Britain), Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) and Thomas Muster (Austria).

Earlier, the men's season began with players spread over several smaller-scale tournaments, and outgoing ATP president Chris Kermode said it made much more sense to have everyone under one umbrella.

The ATP Cup fits perfectly with our strategy to innovate and look to the future, he said.

The first week of the season is when players want to play and that is why the tournament has strong support. 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, United States, Norway Group E (Sydney) - Austria, Croatia, Argentina, Poland Group F (Brisbane) - Germany, Greece, Canada, Australia. (AFP) AT AT

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