ATP Cup adds crowded dates before Aussie Open
Roger Federer won’t be playing until the Australian Open, but the the summer of tennis Down Under ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2020 will be a little more hectic for everybody else.
Kicking off on Friday with the start of the new 24-team, Davis Cup-style ATP Cup in three cities across Australia, players will have a host of options to them on both the ATP and WTA tours.
Federer and Switzerland aren’t involved in the ATP Cup, but No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic will be representing Spain and Serbia, respectively. No. 3 Federer wants to spend more time with his family before the start of the Australian Open on Jan. 20 in Melbourne.
When the ATP Cup concludes on Jan. 12, Djokovic is scheduled to play at the Adelaide International, a joint ATP-WTA tournament that includes world No. 1 women’s player Ash Barty of Australia. Also in that week across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand will be the ATP’s Auckland Open.
The Brisbane International, formerly a joint ATP-WTA event, will be a women’s only tournament this year with hometown star Barty among a group of headliners also including Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, beginning next Monday.
Venus Williams, who had been given a wild card for Brisbane, pulled out with an undisclosed training “setback”on Wednesday. She still hopes to play in Adelaide.
Also on the WTA Tour, the ASB Classic next week has secured a bit of a coup with Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, who will retire after the Australian Open, scheduled to attend and play singles as well as doubles together in New Zealand. The Hobart International will be played the same week in Australia.
The 38-year-old Federer, who has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles, is the only one of the top seven players in the men’s rankings who will not be competing in the 10-day ATP Cup in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.
“He’s made the decision to spend some time with his family and he’s obviously a lot more conscious of how much he’s playing (as he gets older),” ATP Cup tournament director Tom Larner told the Australian Associated Press. “For everything Roger has given to the sport we’re accepting of that.”
Andy Murray will not be appearing for Britain, withdrawing following an injury setback after his return from hip surgery.
Australia will play in Brisbane with Germany, Greece and Canada. In the other Brisbane group it’s Serbia, France, South Africa and Chile. In Sydney, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria and Molodova comprise one group while the other contains Argentina, Austria, Croatia and Poland. Perth hosts the United States, Russia, Italy and Norway and another group comprising Spain, Japan, Uruguay and Georgia.
Kei Nishikori withdrew from the Japan team for the
ATP Cup and from the Australian Open.
“I am still not 100% ready to compete at the highest level,” Nishikori said. He has not competed since the U.S. Open because of a right elbow injury that required surgery in October.
There are a number of innovations to be provided at the ATP Cup, including Team Zones, which will replace the player chairs near the umpire, and on-court coaching where the captain, coaches and players can offer input.
Each encounter will be best-of-three, three-set matches — two singles and a doubles. The six group winners plus two second-place countries go through to the final series in Sydney beginning Jan. 9.
STAYING HOME Roger Federer chases a shot during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open on Sept. 3. Federer won’t play in any tournaments before the Australian Open.