Nadal to open in ATP Cup in Perth; Djokovic on east coast

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Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, returns to Stan Wawrinka, of Switzerland, during the U.S. Open tennis championships, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, returns to Stan Wawrinka, of Switzerland, during the U.S. Open tennis championships, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Sydney (AP) — U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal will start his 2020 season on the opposite side of Australia to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer when he leads Spain in a group-stage qualifier in the new ATP Cup team competition.

Spain was drawn into Group B with Japan and Georgia and will play in Perth on Australia’s west coast, where the U.S. team, Daniil Medvedev’s Russia team and Italy will also be competing in Group D.

Nadal collected his 19th major title, moving within one of Federer’s record for men, when he held off Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in a U.S. Open final that lasted nearly five hours. Nadal remained at No. 2 in the rankings, behind Djokovic, and Medvedev moved up to career-best No. 4.

Djokovic’s Serbia squad was drawn into Group A along with France and South Africa in one of two groups based in Brisbane on Australia’s east coast, along with Australia, Germany, Canada and Greece in Group F.

No. 3-ranked Federer’s Swiss team will open in Group C against Belgium and Britain in Sydney, where Group E — containing Austria, Croatia and Argentina — will also be based.

There are five spots still open in the 24-country tournament which starts in the three cities on Jan. 3 and will double as the season-opening event for the men’s tennis tour.

Eight teams from the six-day group stage will advance to the knockout rounds, which will continue in Sydney until Jan. 12.

The ATP says all players in the top 10, and 27 of the top 30 players in the rankings, have committed to playing in the ATP Cup.

The Australian Open, the first major of the season, is set to start Jan. 20 in Melbourne.