Rafael Nadal - Brisbane International

Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek headline United Cup lineup

Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek are the highlight acts, as the players for the inaugural United Cup tennis event have been announced ahead of the kick off on 29th December. 

The tournament features 18 nations, split into six groups of three. The six groups will be based across three Australian cities, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, with the winning team in each group competing in a city final with the other group winner. These three winners, along with the best performing loser will move on to the semi-finals, with the final taking place on 8th January 2023.

Due to the ongoing war, both Russia and Belarus have been banned from the event.

Nations could qualify for the event in three ways: Six teams qualified based on the ranking of their number one ATP player, six qualified based on the ranking of their number one WTA player and the final six qualified based on a combined ranking of their number one ranked ATP and WTA players.

There are some noticeable player absences from the event leading to well known nations being unable to qualify. Novak Djokovic is one of those missing players meaning Serbia will miss out. Also not playing will be ATP Cup and Davis Cup Champions Canada, with their top players choosing to focus on alternative individual competitions.

The qualified teams also have some key playing missing. Spain are without world no.1 Carlos Alcaraz, USA are without Coco Gauff and Great Britain are missing both Grand Slam champions Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray.

Despite some big players not present at this mixed event there are still some fascinating matchups taking place, including Nadal facing the ever controversial Nick Kygrios, and Swiatek will be taking on Olympic champion Belinda Bencic.

You can learn more about the United Cup here

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.