SYDNEY • A Grigor Dimitrov-led Bulgaria were among the final six teams announced yesterday for the ATP Cup in Australia - the new world tennis men's team event.
Chile, Poland, Uruguay, Moldova and Norway were the other countries to make the grade, based on the ranking of their No. 1 singles player at the second entry deadline on Wednesday.
The rest of the 24-nation field were announced in September, although Switzerland later pulled out after Roger Federer opted to skip the tournament. The field will be split into six groups across Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
As the highest-qualifying country at the second deadline, Bulgaria will replace Switzerland, and join Belgium and the Andy Murray-led Britain in Group C.
The championship takes place from Jan 3-12 in the lead-up to the year's first Grand Slam, the Australian Open in Melbourne.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic will represent Serbia alongside Dusan Lajovic against South Africa, Chile and France in Group A.
Spain's Rafael Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut will kick off their campaign in Perth with Japan, Georgia and Uruguay as their Group B opponents.
Eight teams - with up to five players each - will emerge from the round-robin stage to compete in the knockout phase until one is left standing with ties comprising two singles and a doubles match.
Most of the world's top-30 players, minus Federer, are taking part.
The new-look start to the campaign offers A$22 million (S$20.3 million) in prize money and a maximum of 750 singles and 250 doubles ATP rankings points.
ATP CUP DRAW
Serbia, France, South Africa, Chile (Matches in Brisbane)
Spain, Japan, Georgia, Uruguay (Perth)
Bulgaria, Belgium, Britain, Moldova (Sydney)
Russia, Italy, United States, Norway (Perth)
Austria, Croatia, Argentina, Poland (Sydney)
Germany, Greece, Canada, Australia (Brisbane)
Murray, who has never played in Sydney, welcomed the challenge of 2017 ATP Finals champion Dimitrov and 11th-ranked David Goffin of Belgium, noting they were a stiff test ahead of Melbourne Park.
"I was excited we got drawn to play there and have a couple of tough matches," the Scot and world No. 125 said. "But that's what you want when you've got the Aussie Open a couple of weeks away."