Big guns open sum­mer

Dim­itrov, Mur­ray to kick­start new ATP Cup

Mercury (Hobart) - - TENNIS - MUR­RAY WEN­ZEL

A DATE with Andy Mur­ray to kick­start Aus­tralia’s sum­mer of ten­nis is the re­ward for Grigor Dim­itrov, whose lateyear rank­ings surge has earned Bul­garia a berth in the maiden ATP Cup.

Bul­garia, Chile, Poland, Uruguay, Nor­way and Moldova were the fi­nal six coun­tries added to the draw yes­ter­day, with 24 na­tions in to­tal split into six groups play­ing across Syd­ney, Bris­bane and Perth from Jan­uary 3-12.

Ex-world No.3 and Aus­tralian Open semi-fi­nal­ist Dim­itrov moved from a seven-year low of 78 in Au­gust to No.20.

Switzer­land’s Roger Fed­erer with­drew for per­sonal rea­sons last month, but thanks to Dim­itrov’s rise the man dubbed Baby Fed — thanks to their sim­i­lar style of play — will re­place him in Syd­ney.

He will lead Bul­garia against Moldova, Bel­gium and Great Bri­tain, who will roll out Andy Mur­ray as he con­tin­ues his re­mark­able come­back from ma­jor hip surgery.

“I was ex­cited we got drawn to play there and have a cou­ple of tough matches,” said Mur­ray, who has never played in Syd­ney.

“That’s what you want when you’ve got the Aussie Open a cou­ple of weeks away.”

Cur­rent top two Rafael Nadal and No­vak Djokovic will lead Spain and Ser­bia in Perth and Bris­bane re­spec­tively, while Aus­tralia will be pow­ered by Alex de Min­aur and Nick Kyr­gios in Bris­bane. Aus­tralia is in a pool stacked with some of the world’s best young play­ers, with Greek Stefanos Tsit­si­pas, Cana­dian pair De­nis Shapo­valov and Felix Auger-Alias­sime and Ger­man Alexan­der Zverev all fea­tur­ing.

“We have such a good team chem­istry, we have a very ... strong team and I know ev­ery­one is go­ing to leave their heart out on the court,” cur­rent world No.18 de Min­aur said.

Spain’s world No.1 Nadal will play for the first time in Perth against Group B ri­vals Ja­pan, Ge­or­gia and Uruguay.

Ser­bia, led by Djokovic, plays Chile, France and South Africa in Group A in Bris­bane.

The six group winners and the two best sec­ond-placed fin­ish­ers across the groups reach the fi­nals in Syd­ney.

Each tie will com­prise two sin­gles and one dou­bles match, with coun­tries able to se­lect from three play­ers.

WORLD No.20: Grigor Dim­itrov.

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