Three top-ranked players from the ATP list will kick off their ATP Cup campaigns on Saturday night in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, in the last ties of the first round-robin matches at the inaugural event. The ATP Cup started on Friday and we have already seen some memorable encounters before Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem step on the court in a couple of hours.
In Sydney, Austria takes upon Croatia in what should be an exciting tie if they all show their best tennis. In the first match, Marin Cilic will try to leave terrible 2019 behind him and bounce back from the worst year-end ranking since 2007!
Marin will face Dennis Novak in his first ATP Cup clash before the more intriguing encounter between world no. 4 Dominic Thiem and Borna Coric who also struggled to find his best tennis in the season behind us. Thiem will try to become a Grand Slam champion in 2020 following a fantastic last season that saw him winning the first Masters 1000 crown at Indian Wells and reaching the second straight Roland Garros final.
The Austrian feels ready to take the next step and challenge the better-ranked rivals on the biggest scene, especially after a poor run outside Paris in 2019. Thiem has won the last three matches against Borna and should be the favorite tonight as well, enduring hard offseason preparations in Miami and feeling ready to hit the court.
In Perth, Spain plays against Georgia and should the favorite to kick off the campaign with a winning start. Roberto Bautista Agut should beat Aleksandre Metreveli easily before world no. 1 Rafael Nadal takes the stage against Nikoloz Basilashvili.
The Georgian managed to finish in the top-30 for the second straight year thanks to ATP 500 title defense in Hamburg but has not been in a great form recently, hoping to change that against the fiercest possible rival who ousted him in all three previous encounters.
Nadal looks determined to chase another team title for Spain after the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid in November where he delivered eight victories, ready to take the court twice today after being scheduled to play doubles with Pablo Carreno Busta.
In Group A in Brisbane, Novak Djokovic opens the season against Kevin Anderson following the first clash between Dusan Lajovic and Lloyd Harris, facing the South African for the 11th time and seeking the ninth triumph. After that heartbreaking loss to Russia at the Davis Cup Finals, Novak and the rest of the Serbian squad should have an extra motive to perform well in Australia and challenge other teams for the title, especially if they pull themselves together in the doubles.