in any group competition there is a ‘group of death’ and this one could deliver some incredible and exciting tennis over the week at Melbourne Park. It will see experience and youth clash and some rematches from 2020’s edition of the ATP Cup.
Spain, Australia & Greece
The standout here is of course Rafael Nadal, I think if Rafa had a choice he probably wouldn’t chose Australia and Greece as opponents.
We will see Rafa up against De Minaur he ran him ragged last year and will be hoping to see the win this time and Tsitsipas who he actually beat in London last year. Both opponents will bring flair and variety to the court and various options. The good news is Spain also have strong doubles players and also Roberto Bautista Agut who was one of the standout players in last years first addition of the ATP Cup.
With the upmost respect to Greece it does all lie with Tsitsipas, the Greek team were fun to watch last year but will heavily rely on Stefanos Tsitsipas. To put it into context: Pervolarakis is ranked at 462 in singles, Kalovelonis is ranked 737 in singles and Stefanos’ younger brother Petros is ranked at 960 in singles with only Stefanos in the top 400 of doubles too.
If anything, maybe this format brings added pressure to Tsitsipas? It probably isn’t the most ideal way to prepare for a Grand Slam in my opinion when in the need of good form. I love watching him play and a couple of great results here will give him a boost going into the first major of the year.
Australia, the wildcards! I wouldn’t say the hosts are at their strongest. There is no Nick Kyrgios, but there are here with their top two in singles and doubles so you could argue they are at their strongest. I do think Australia have great balance in their team, Luke Saville has grown in the doubles game and they have one of the best in John Peers.
Last year we saw a lot of grafters shine in this format and John Millman has found his best tennis later on in his career and it would be lovely to see him play well but all eyes are on the demon.
I saw Nadal vs De Minaur at the Australian Open in 2019, they played in ATP Cup last year and for the third year running will meet in Australia. Alex has made big strides over the last couple of years and will be hoping to kick on again this year. He was excellent in this competition in singles and doubles last year but it forced him out of the Australian Open with injury.
I don’t think this group will be straight forward, Spain are favourite but Australia will have that crowd advantage and despite not having too many high ranked players Greece aren’t there to make up the numbers!