New ATP event mooted for Australia

Simon Cambers
World No.2 Andy Murray is among those behind a proposed new ATP event which may be held in Brisbane

The World Team Cup, a men's event offering big prize money and ranking points, could begin as soon as January 2019, sources have said after meetings between tennis stakeholders in New York this week.

According to two sources familiar with the discussions, there are plans to hold the event over 10 days at the start of each year.

It would include a maximum 24 nations of up to five players per team, with as many as 1000 ATP Tour ranking points on offer to players who win all their matches.

The competition could be held in multiple cities, most likely in Australia and the Asia Pacific region, forming an integral part of the build-up to the Australian Open, which begins in mid-January.

The new event, which was discussed by stakeholders including the four grand slam tournaments, the ATP and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), would represent a major shake-up in the tennis calendar.

With most leading players traditionally choosing to use the week before a grand slam event to practice, rather than compete in a regular Tour event, it is most likely to be played in the first week of January, the sources said.

That slot in the calendar is presently occupied by the Brisbane International and the Hopman Cup, a mixed team event sanctioned by the ITF, which is held in Perth.

Britain's Andy Murray, the world No.2, has been one of the most vocal supporters of the proposed event, which was first mooted in May when Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic openly discussed the plans.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Brisbane International said Murray "plans to start his next three years in Australia as part of a long-term partnership with Tennis Australia to help promote the sport".

Tennis Australia, which has invested heavily in the sport in recent years, including a state of the art facility in Brisbane, is backing the World Team Cup plans.

"The protection and growth of the Australian Open and Australian Open Series is always a major priority for us," it said in a statement.

"We also have an ongoing determination to improve the pay and conditions of the international playing group. We will always listen to any proposal that meets both of those objectives."

The original World Team Cup began in 1975 and was held in Dusseldorf from 1978 to 2012 but did not offer ranking points and suffered from being on the calendar just a week before the French Open.