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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, January 22, 2021

 
Serbia

Serbia will launch its ATP Cup title defense against Canada and Germany in Group A play. Second-seeded Spain drew Greece and Australia in Group B.

Photo credit: ATP Cup Facebook

Serbia captured the 2020 ATP Cup in a spectacular photo finish.

The draw for the 2021 ATP Cup presents a challenging picture for the defending champion.

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Top-seeded Serbia—led by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Dusan Lajovic—has drawn Canada and Germany in Group A play.

The 12 nations playing in the second edition of the ATP Cup, set for Melbourne Park the week before the Australian Open, were assigned to four groups at the official tournament draw on Friday.

Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic will lead Canada with US Open finalist Alexander Zverev and Jan-Lennard Struff scheduled singles starters for Germany.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ATP Cup (@atpcup)



A year ago, a spirited Djokovic out-dueled rival Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6(4) in an impressive performance to send the dizzying drama of the inaugural ATP Cup final into the climactic doubles at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney. It was Djokovic's ninth straight hard-court win over Nadal. Djokovic and boyhood buddy Viktor Troicki topped Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4 in the decisive doubles propelling Serbia to a dramatic 2-1 victory over Spain in a stirring final in Sydney.

Safety protocols amid the Coronavirus pandemic have centered the competition in Melbourne this year.

The second-ranked Nadal, who is playing for a record-extending 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, and Roberto Bautista Agut lead Spain in Group B which features a Stefanos Tsitsipas-led Greek squad and an Australian team led by singles starters Alex de Minaur, who opened the season winning Antalya, and John Millman.

Last year, Nadal rolled through eight of the last nine games roaring past de Minaur 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 clinching Spain's conquest of Australia in Sydney to set up the final vs. Serbia.

Austria, led by World No. 3 Dominic Thiem, will look to advance through Group C against a dangerous Italian squad starring Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini and talented France featuring Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ATP Cup (@atpcup)



No. 4-seeded Russia headed by reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev and the big-hitting Andre Rublev, will aim for a semifinal return from Group D, which includes Argentina and Japan. In the 2020 ATP Cup, Djokovic edged Medvedev in a gripping singles match as Serbia stopped Russia in the semifinals.

The five-day ATP Cup is set for February 1-5th at Melbourne Park. Twelve nations will chase the Cup alongside two ATP 250 events, the Great Ocean Road Open and the Murray River Open.

Tennis Express

Four group winners advance to the knockout semifinals. The 2021 ATP Cup will feature 12 of the Top 13 players in the ATP Rankings. Each country will consist of four players, with each tie comprising two singles matches and one doubles match.

Given COVID-19 safety protocols limit the number of tune-up tournaments for the year's first Grand Slam, this year's ATP Cup takes on even greater significance for players who need match play ahead of the Melbourne major.

There is a day session and an evening session each day. The No. 2 players will play first in each tie, followed by the No. 1 players, with the doubles to follow. All ATP Cup doubles matches will be played regardless of whether the tie is decided after the two singles matches except if the final is decided after the two singles matches.

 

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