SYDNEY: Serbia, led by world number one Novak Djokovic, will play Germany and Canada in the group stage of the ATP Cup in Melbourne next week.
The men’s team competition debuted in cities around Australia last year, but will only be cut off and played at Melbourne Park from February 1-5 due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
However, it will offer players their first tour of the country after 14 days of hotel isolation ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on February 8.
Djokovic took Rafa Nadal to Serbia with a win over Spain in Sydney last year, but his path to a return to the final was not helped by a tough draw in Group A.
The German team will be led by Alexander Sverrev, while Denis Shapovalov is the best player to feature Milos Ronnick for Canada.
The winning team from the four first-round teams will advance directly to the semifinals.
Nadal’s Spain will play Greece and Australia in Group B, while the Greeks will be without hosts Nick Kyrgios as they have little depth beneath world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas.
When the world rankings dropped to 46, Kyrgios paid the price for a year of inactivity due to the Covit-19 worries, thus leading Alex de Minor home.
Kyrgios then moved up another place to 47th.
Dominic Theme’s Austria topped Group C, where they will face Italy and France, while Russia will be ahead of Group D ahead of Argentina and Japan.
Russia, Argentina and Japan are led by world number nine Diego Schwartzman and world number 41 Kei Nishigori, respectively, with two of the top 10 players, Daniel Medvedev and Andrei Rublev.