SYDNEY – A new mixed-team event, the United Cup, will open the 2023 tennis season in Australia, with US$15 million (S$21.2 million) in prize money and rankings points at stake, the ATP and WTA tours announced on Friday.
It will replace the men’s ATP Cup and be held in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney as the key build-up to the Australian Open – the first Grand Slam of the year.
Eighteen countries will compete across 11 days from Dec 29, with each team comprising up to four men and four women with 500 WTA and 500 ATP rankings points available.
“The United Cup is an important and strategic collaboration between the WTA, the ATP and Tennis Australia that reflects a continued commitment in elevating our sport,” said WTA chief executive Steve Simon.
“This exciting singles and mixed doubles team event will bring together emerging stars and established athletes from both tours to compete on the same stage.”
The ATP Cup, a joint venture between Tennis Australia and the men’s tour which ran for three years, boasted big prize money and high-profile names but failed to attract crowds and struggled with logistical challenges during the Covid-19 crisis.
The more popular Hopman Cup mixed-sex team tournament ran in Perth at the start of the year from 1989 to 2019 but was axed to make way for the ATP Cup.
Brisbane, Perth and Sydney will each host two groups of three countries in a round-robin format for the United Cup from Dec 29 to Jan 4 with ties comprising two men’s and two women’s singles matches and one mixed doubles.
Group winners in each city will play off for one of three semi-final spots in Sydney, with the next best performing team from the group stages joining them.
“The United Cup marks a major step forward for the game of tennis,” said ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.
“Most importantly, it will create incredible new experiences for our fans. We’re excited to see the best men’s and women’s players competing together, with ranking points on the line, to launch the season like never before.”
The new tournament also reflects the growing cooperation between the men’s and women’s tours, which have made moves towards streamlining the governance of the game since the global health crisis heavily disrupted the 2020 season.
The United Cup final will be in Sydney on Jan 8 with the Australian Open beginning at Melbourne Park on Jan 16. AFP, REUTERS