ATP Cup Preview: Can Serbia and Djokovic retain their title?
The biggest stars of men’s tennis, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, will kick off their 2021 campaign at the ATP Cup in Melbourne.
Due to the pandemic, the field has decreased from 24 countries to 12 and will be held solely in Melbourne as opposed to Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.
Defending champions Serbia, runners-up Spain, Austria, Russia, Germany, Canada, Greece, Australia, Italy, France, Argentina and Japan have all qualified for the ATP Cup this year. The nations have been placed into four groups of three teams, with the winner of each group qualifying for the semi-finals.
This year, every player in the top 10 will be competing apart from Roger Federer, with Canadian duo Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic also in the mix.
Three matches will decide each tie of the 2021 ATP Cup. There will be a singles matchup between the two top-ranked singles players, a second singles matchup between the second-highest-ranked singles players, and finally, a doubles.
Group A: (1) Serbia, (6) Germany, (11) Canada
Serbia – Novak Djokovic, Dusan Lajovic, Filip Krajinovic, Nikola Cacic
Germany – Alexander Zverev, Jan-Lennard Struff, Kevin Krawietz, Andreas Mies
Canada – Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic, Peter Polansky, Steven Diez
After playing a single set against Jannik Sinner at the Day at the Drive Exhibition due to injury, Novak Djokovic will play his first competitive match of the year against World No. 7 Alexander Zverev before facing Denis Shapovalov in his second fixture.
Germany vs Canada is also expected to be tightly fought, with Zverev likely to go head-to-head with Shapovalov before Milos Raonic locks horns with Jan-Lennard Struff.
Group B: (2) Spain, (5) Greece, (12) Australia
Spain – Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, Marcel Granollers, Pablo Carreno Busta
Greece – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Michail Pervolarakis, Markos Kalovelonis, Petros Tsitsipas
Australia – Alex de Minaur, John Millman, John Peers, Luke Saville
2020 runners-up Spain are expected to reach the latter stages of the ATP Cup once again and will be eager to avenge last year’s defeat to Serbia.
Spain arguably boast the most complete team with three top-20 players in their ranks, while also including an impressive doubles player in Marcel Granollers.
Rafael Nadal will face Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur, with Nadal’s three-set epic against the Australian producing one of the matches of the tournament in last year’s edition.
Group C: (3) Austria, (8) Italy, (10) France
Austria – Dominic Thiem, Dennis Novak, Philipp Oswald, Tristan-Samuel Weissborn
Italy – Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini, Simone Bolelli, Andrea Vavassori
France – Gael Monfils, Benoit Paire, Nicolas Mahut, Edouard Roger-Vasselin
In what promises to be a closely contested group, Dominic Thiem will hope to lead Austria out of the group stages for the first time at the ATP Cup after finishing bottom of Group E in 2020.
However, Thiem will face tough tests against both Matteo Berrettini and Gael Monfils whilst World No 99 Denis Novak will be the underdog against the experienced Fabio Fognini and Benoit Paire.
France also boast the best doubles partnership in Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin which could prove vital in this group.
Group D: (4) Russia, (7) Argentina, (9) Japan
Russia – Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aslan Karatsev, Evgeny Donskoy
Argentina – Diego Schwartzman, Guido Pella, Horacio Zeballos, Maximo Gonzalez
Japan – Kei Nishikori, Yoshihito Nishioka, Ben McLachlan, Toshihide Matsui
Last year’s semi-finalists Russia are favourites to progress from their group once again with a formidable singles team of Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.
World No 8 Rublev is by far the strongest second-seeded player in this event giving Russia a great chance of winning each tie without relying on the doubles team.
Where is the tournament held?
The tournament will be played at Melbourne Park due to the Covid-19 secure bubbles in place ahead of the Australian Open on February 8.
What dates does the tournament run?
The tournament will run from 2-6 February 2021 after previously being held in January last year.
How can I watch the event?
Amazon Prime subscribers can watch the event via Amazon Prime Video.
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