Teams from 24 nations will converge on Australia beginning Thursday to compete in the ATP Cup, a new event that tennis officials are hoping will becoming the leading preparatory event for the Australian Open.
Many of the world’s top players are participating in the inaugural ATP Cup, but it remains to be seen whether this event – which is very similar to the Davis Cup – will be able to find its niche in the tennis world.
Spain Given Best Shot at First ATP Cup Title
The ATP Cup begins with the 24 teams, separated into six groups of four teams each, for round-robin play. The six group winners and the two best runner-up nations will then head to the knockout rounds. Each contest features three matches: two singles competitions, and a doubles match, which will be played even if the score is already 2-0.
Most of the top players in the world are participating, though attendance is far from perfect. Both Rafael Nadal (Spain) and Novak Djokovic (Serbia) are in attendance, while Roger Federer and Andy Murray are both out. The players will be competing for $15 million in appearance fees and prize money, as well as ATP rankings points, which have never before been awarded in a team event.
ATP Cup Odds (Outright Winner)
- Spain (+300)
- Russia (+550)
- Serbia (+600)
- Australia (+700)
- France (+800)
- Germany (+800)
- Canada (+850)
Odds via PointsBet
Spain has been pegged as the early favorite in the tournament, with PointsBet making the country the +300 pick to win the first ATP Cup. Spain is also a -667 favorite to win Group B ahead of Japan (+500), Uruguay (+1600), and Georgia (+3300).
Other nations with a history of producing world-class players are also near the top of the board. Russia (+550), Serbia (+600), Australia (+700), Germany (+800), and France (+800) are among the countries given a strong chance of raising the trophy, while the United States is a +1400 pick, putting the Americans in the middle of the pack. One nation not on the board is Switzerland: with both Federer and Stan Wawrinka sitting out the event, the Swiss did not qualify for the field of 24.
Players Want Merger With Davis Cup
One of the major oddities of the ATP Cup is that it is taking place just six weeks after the end of the Davis Cup, one of the biggest traditions in the tennis world. That has led many, including supporters of the new event, to suggest that the two competitions don’t both need to exist.
“We need to have one Super World Cup event, whatever you want to call it,” Djokovic – head of the ATP players’ council – told reporters. “If the two sides, the ITF, the Davis Cup, and the ATP get together very quickly, it can happen possibly for 2022. I hope it will happen because it’s kind of hard to get top players to commit to play both events.”
Nadal agreed with his rival’s assessment.
“Yeah, it is confusing to have two World Cups of tennis in one month,” Nadal said. “For me personally, that’s not the ideal situation for our sport, but that’s how it works today.”