Who’s the new kid on the block?
<p>January 2020 will see the first edition of an ATP team competition since 2012, this time by the name of the ATP Cup. It is an outdoor hard court tennis tournament played between teams from 24 countries and will be played across 10 days and 3 cities – Brisbane, Sydney and Perth – finishing a week before the Australian Open.</p><p> </p><div><h2>Format</h2><p>The format is similar to the Laver Cup. There are 24 teams split into 6 groups. Each group chooses a number 1 and 2 for the singles and a doubles pair. The no. 2s face off first then the no. 1s, with the doubles finishing the tie. Each group’s winner will be joined by the 2 best second places in the quarters. From this stage there are 3 knockout rounds until a victor emerges.</p><p> </p><h2>Line Up</h2><p>Federer will miss the event but the remaining 9 of the top 10 are in attendance as are 26 of the top 30 for a spectacular line-up. Unsurprisingly there is no expense spared with $15,000,000 in prize money, which should be plenty of motivation, though some have argued that it is too big of an event too early in the year.</p><p> </p><h2>Group A</h2><p>Serbia, France, South Africa and Chile make up Group A. France have Monfils who is likely to beat everyone in the group bar Djokovic, plus they have the best doubles pair. They seem like slight favourites with Serbia second. It’s hard to imagine South Africa or Chile winning more than one tie each in the group given their severe lack of depth.</p><p> </p><h2>Group B</h2><p>Spain, Japan, Georgia and Uruguay make up Group B. Newly crowned Davis Cup champions, Spain are once again a strong favourite to win their group. Nadal, Bautista, Carreno, Ramos, Lopez is quite the line up, and the only team with half a chance might be Japan. The Japanese impressed in the Davis Cup even without Nishikori and since he’s back they aren’t without hope. Nishikori has beaten Nadal twice before, both on hard courts, though I doubt he’ll have much of a chance on comeback from injury. Georgia have Basilashvili but no one else, while Uruguay have Cuevas but no one else, so again it seems like a two team shoot out.</p><p> </p><h2>Group C</h2><p>Belgium, Great Britain, Bulgaria and Moldova make up Group C. This one is between Great Britain and Belgium, with Bulgaria and especially Moldova having very weak teams. The question is whether Murray can produce against Goffin, but the Brits have a better doubles pair anyway so they are favourites.</p><p> </p><h2>Group D</h2><p>Russia, Italy, USA and Norway make up Group D. Norway have no chance but it is a more competitive group overall. Russia have the best singles player in Medvedev, arguably Italy have the best number 2 in Fognini and the USA probably have the best doubles pair in Isner/Ram (I assume). Any of the 3 could win, but I’d possibly give Russia the edge.</p><p> </p><h2>Group E</h2><p>Austria, Croatia, Argentina and Poland make up Group E. None of the teams are no hopes in this group. Austria have the best singles player in Thiem who has been in superb form of late, but they struggle a little for depth. Croatia arguably have the most balanced team with Coric and Cilic in the singles and Dodig/Mektic in the doubles, all top class players, though Coric and Cilic are in poor form.</p><p>Argentina lack a quality doubles pair but Schwartzman and Pella can be formidable on the singles court and they shouldn’t be ruled out. Poland have Hurkacz who could certainly beat anyone in the group, while Majchrzak isn’t without a chance as the number 2. Kubot is a world class doubles player and would presumably pair up with Hurkacz, which could well make a decent team. On balance, Croatia seem like the favourites, followed by Austria, Argentina and Poland, but the top 3 are close.</p><p> </p><h2>Group F</h2><p>Germany, Greece, Canada and Australia make up Group F. There’s not a whole lot between Germany and Australia in this group, though I’d have to give the edge to Australia. Canada are third and unfortunately lacking their best doubles player, Pospisil, while Greece seem like a bit of a no hope despite having the recent ATP Finals winner, Stefanos Tsitsipas.</p><p>The key H2H is Kyrgios against Zverev, and given the Aussie’s propensity to play well in these team events, alongside Zverev’s questionable form of late, I’d give Kyrgios the edge. De Minaur also has an edge over Struff as the number 2. The doubles is harder to call with Kraweitz/Mies taking on Peers/Kyrgios (I assume), a match close to 50/50. Canada have 2 big talents in Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime, but again they lack the depth of Germany or Australia and I would be surprised if they managed the win.</p><p> </p><h2>Knockout</h2><p>Going from my judgement we are likely to see France, Spain, Great Britain, Australia, Russia and Croatia in the quarters. Serbia, Germany, Japan or Belgium seem the most likely teams to be one of the 2 best second places given their weak, 2 team groups, but Italy, USA, Argentina or Austria all have their chances on a good week.</p><p>It all, of course, depends on how the draw plays out, but of the main 6 teams the one that seems most likely to win is Spain, followed by France or Australia then Russia, GB and finally Croatia. The surprise of the Davis Cup was Canada and perhaps we will get something similar from one of Italy or the USA, both of whom have well balanced teams who can cause a lot of damage of their day. Either way, it looks set to be a souped-up version of the Davis Cup, and has almost all of the top players in attendance, so it’s not one to miss.</p></div>