Tour creates ATP Cup, a new team competition

LONDON -- The ATP Tour officially announced Thursday the formation of a new team competition, the ATP Cup, which will be added to an already crowded calendar.

With the new-look Davis Cup, run by the International Tennis Federation, set to be held in November starting in 2019, the ATP Cup, which will begin in the first week of January, will see two major team events in the space of six weeks.

The announcement came less than 24 hours after the world No. 1 Novak Djokovic said the current schedule had become saturated and that two team events in such a small space of time was "not sustainable."

The ATP Cup, an expanded revamping of the old ATP World Team Cup, which ran for 35 years until 2012, will have 24 teams of up to five players and is expected be held in January 2020 over 10 days across three cities.

The event is not mandatory but will offer a maximum of 750 ranking points to players, with a total of $15 million in prize money, ATP executive chairman and president Chris Kermode said to the press at London's O2, the venue for this week's Nitto ATP Finals.

On Wednesday, Djokovic said holding the Davis Cup and ATP Cup in such close proximity would result in "two average events."

He continued: "From what I've heard from conversations with people from all of the sides, different sides in this sport, they all want to have one event because it's oversaturated with different cups, different events.

"We have the longest season in all sports. We're just adding events. We kind of have to try to focus on quality rather than quantity."

Alexander Zverev, who lost to Djokovic at this week's ATP Finals, told reporters that the season was "way too long."

"That's the issue," he said. "But I've said it before. We play for 11 months a year. That's ridiculous. No other professional sport does that."

Kermode and Craig Tiley, the CEO of Tennis Australia, both said they hoped to resolve the scheduling issue. Kermode suggested the ATP should look to make some changes to the calendar in general, having discussed it with the sport's other governing bodies, the ITF, WTA and all four Grand Slam events earlier this week.

"What was great about our conversations was [they said] let's all look at the calendar, what's the ideal calendar," Kermode told reporters.

"But as we all know it's complicated; we have 64 events and we have the Slams, it's a lot of tennis. But I think it's time to have a fresh look. It's not going to happen overnight, but the tone of that meeting was very good, and let's see what happens in the future.

"We're open to any discussions, but we feel very strongly about this event. We couldn't delay it any longer, hence announcing this going forward with all the players' backing, and I think in the future it will be interesting to see what happens."

The introduction of the ATP Cup in the first week of the year will mean a shuffling of events. While Doha will stay in place at the same time, to offer ranking point opportunities to players who are not in the ATP Cup, the event in Pune, India, will move to the week after the Australian Open.

"From strong nations, there are going to be quite a lot of players who don't make it, so they have to have an opportunity to earn points," Kermode said.

Tiley said more than three Australian cities were bidding to stage the ATP Cup and that discussions were ongoing with the likes of Brisbane, which currently stages a combined event in the same week as the ATP Cup, as well as the Hopman Cup, the ITF-sanctioned mixed team event held at the same time.

"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. We'll make the right choices and the right cities and some of the events will be replaced but that's still to be determined," Tiley said.

"You can point to many, in some cases sports have three or four team events that are successful so this is not unique for the ATP and the sport to have several team events.

"We approach it that way; we're completely focused on ensuring this event is a magnificent launch to the season and a global event for the players."

The Laver Cup, an exhibition team event which began in 2017 and is held in September, is another commitment for the players. Djokovic said things need to change.

"This part of the year, post-US Open, you have Laver Cup, then Davis Cup, World Team Cup first week of the year," Djokovic elaborated. "It's really oversaturated. Within three, four months, it's too many events. We'll have to work it out. But we have to start from somewhere."

Qualification for the ATP Cup will be based on the ranking of each country's highest-ranked player, the ATP said.

The ATP did not announce an official start date for the ATP Cup but did confirm that the 2020 Australian Open will begin on Jan 20.