ATP Cup best way to kick-start season: Djokovic
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have backed a new men’s team competition just a day after the Serbian raised concerns over the timing of the event, which will take place shortly after the revamped Davis Cup.
The ATP Cup, announced by the ATP and Tennis Australia on Thursday during the ATP Finals in London, will be played from 2020 across three Australian cities over 10 days in the lead-up to the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, which starts in January. It will offer $15 million in prize money and up to 750 ATP Rankings points to the winners.
“I like that it’s owned by ATP, by the players, and that we have ranking points, and it’s going to be the best way to kickstart the season,” said world No. 1 Djokovic. ”More than 90 percent of the time we’re playing as individuals and we don't have too many team events.”
Federer was upbeat about the new event and said the Davis Cup would not suffer. “Clearly if the World Team Cup is going to be held, players will want to play that in the first week of the year, so you would think it’s going to be exciting,” the Swiss said after reaching the last four of the ATP Finals in London. “The Davis Cup has incredibly rich history. You would think the players are going to play that. From that standpoint, I think there’s not that much change, per se, or more tournaments on the calendar. It just happens that there's more team events, which I think the players are happy about.”
The comments from Djokovic, who is president of the ATP player council, were in sharp contrast to the views he voiced the previous day, when he said having two similar team tournaments so close together would not be sustainable and also expressing concerns over the length of the tennis season.
“I think in the next two years we’ll have both events happening in a very similar format if not the same, six weeks apart,” he said. ”I honestly don't think it’s good for the sport... It will happen that we will have two average events.”
A revamped Davis Cup tournament will take place from November 2019, bringing together 18 nations in one place for a week at the end of the season. The Davis Cup is run by the ITF, the governing body of world tennis, while the ATP, which runs the men’s Tour, will stage the ATP Cup.
Earlier this week, world No. 5 Alexander Zverev said almost all the top players would skip the Davis Cup.
“The Davis Cup has some serious issues to think about, I think,” he said. “One of them is the dates. I think the dates are very important and I think none of the top players will play, except Rafa (Rafael Nadal) because it’s in Spain. I'm very, very sure that a lot of top players will not play. We'll see how it goes.”
The format of the ATP Cup will see nations split into six groups, with eight teams emerging from the round-robin stage to compete in the knockout phase.
There will be up to five players in each team, with ties comprising two singles matches and one doubles match.
Meanwhile, Craig Tiley, chief executive of Tennis Australia, who was co-host of the news conference announcing the 24-team ATP Cup in London on Thursday and conceded some tournaments might disappear.
“We’ve got cities that may want to maintain some of the events that they do or have an opportunity to be part of this,” he told reporters.