“Last year the play was incredible, the intensity was there every single match,” explained Mark Philippoussis. He is right, the ATP Cup is one of the most exciting tournaments on the tour at the moment. There isn’t a much better way to prepare for a Grand Slam than the high intensity of battling it out on behalf of one’s nation.
Due to the COVID times that we are in, which forced a change of how the Aussie summer of tennis was structured, the 2021 ATP Cup, hopefully as a one off has been scaled back from 24 countries to a 12-country event that will be played at Melbourne Park from the 2nd to 6th of February. Let’s have a detailed look at the four groups in the tournament.
Serbia, Germany and Canada.
Top seed and defending champions, Serbia, headline Group A. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will lead Serbia into battle alongside Dusan Lajovic (World No. 26), Filip Krajinovic (World No. 31) and Nikola Cacic (World No. 56 Doubles). Despite being a strong team, there are no guarantees Serbia will make it out of the group stages. Young gun and World No. 7, Alexander Zverev, and Jan-Lennard Struff (World No. 37) will take the reins for Germany. They also have one of the most talented doubles teams in the competition with Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies. Rounding out Group A is 2019 Davis Cup runners up, Canada. They will be led by Denis Shapovalov (World No. 12) and Milos Raonic (World No. 15). Joining them is tour veteran, Peter Polansky, as well as Steven Diez; both players currently sit outside the world top 150.
Spain, Greece and Australia.
Led by World No. 2, Rafael Nadal, Spain will look to go one step further at the tournament this year after finishing runners up last year. Nadal will be joined by Roberto Bautista Agut (World No. 13), Pablo Carreno Busta (World No. 16) and Marcel Granollers (World No. 11 Doubles). With rankings like that, Spain looks like the team to beat at Melbourne Park this year. After finishing last year with a 0-3 record, Team Greece will be looking to improve greatly on that number. Led by World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Athens native will be joined by his brother Petros (World No. 960), as well as Michail Pervolarakis (World No. 463) and Markos Kalovelonis (World No. 738). Team Greece will certainly be heavily reliant on Tsitsipas once again. ATP Cup again. Lastly is Team Australia, with the Aussie boys looking to go a couple of steps further after falling to Spain in the semi-finals last year. Led by singles guns Alex de Minaur (World No. 23) and John Millman (World No. 38), they will also be joined by two top-40 doubles players- John Peers (World No. 28 Doubles) and Luke Saville (World No. 37 Doubles). As always, there will be plenty of spirit amongst the Australians.
Austria, Italy and France.
Leading Group C is reigning U.S. Open Champion and World No. 3 Dominic Thiem. The Austrian finished last ATP Cup with a 1-2 record and thus will be looking to improve on that this year. Thiem will be joined by Dennis Novak (World No. 99), Philipp Oswald (World No. 42 Doubles) and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn (No Ranking). Team Italy will be led by two Top 20 players in Matteo Berrettini (World No. 10) and Fabio Fognini (World No. 17). They will be joined by Simone Bolelli (World No. 69 Doubles) and Andrea Vavassori (World No. 314). Rounding up Group C is France. Gael Monfils (World No. 11) and Benoit Paire (World No. 28) will take the reins in the singles department. Nicolas Mahut (World No. 8 Doubles) and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (World No. 14 Doubles) will form what is likely to be the strongest doubles team of the tournament.
Russia, Argentina and Japan.
With the ruthless Daniil Medvedev (World No. 4) and Andrey Rublev (World No. 8) leading Russia this year, the two promise to be the strongest pair in the tournament. The two top 10 players will be joined by Aslan Karatsev (World No. 113) and Evgeny Donskoy (World No. 122). After propelling himself in the Top 10 last year, Diego Schwartzman (World No. 9) will look to start his year off right at the ATP Cup. Schwartzman will be joined by Guido Pellla (World No. 44), Horacio Zeballos (World No. 3 Doubles) and Maximo Gonzalez (World No. 43 Doubles) to represent Argentina. Rounding out Group D is Japan. Tour veteran Kei Nishikori (World No. 41) will lead the way for Japan, with this being his first tournament back since elbow surgery. Nishikori will team up with Yoshihito Nishioka (World No. 57) and Ben McLachlan (World No. 47 Doubles). Remarkably, 42-year-old Toshihide Matsu (World No. 804) will complete the list for Japan.
The full draw can be found below: