SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian tennis chiefs welcomed on Monday (July 2) the announcement of a new ATP World Team Cup tournament amid fears over the future of some of the country's top events.
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which runs the men's game, voted in London on Sunday to award the tournament to Australia. It will be played in January from 2020.
The event is returning to the global calendar for the first time since taking place in Dusseldorf from 1978 to 2012 and will feature 24 teams with US$15 million (S$20.5 million) in prize money at stake, along with ATP rankings points.
More details on the format and precise dates will be released later.
The decision puts the ATP, which operates the Sydney and Brisbane Internationals in January, in direct competition with tennis' governing body the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which runs the Hopman Cup in Perth and the four Grand Slams including the season-opening Australian Open.
Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said the decision meant the world's top players would continue to start their year in Australia.
"This is an exciting new era in men's tennis," he said in a statement, without commenting on what it meant for the traditional Australian Open warm-up events in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.
"Upon finalising the agreement with the ATP we look forward to unveiling a stunning new global event in Australia to launch the season."
Tiley added that he believed the World Team Cup format "will deeply engage the fans across Australia and throughout the world".
The mixed-team Hopman Cup has already confirmed the return of Roger Federer for its 31st year in late December, while world No. 1 Rafael Nadal has announced that he will be playing in the Brisbane International.
ATP president Chris Kermode said the new event would change the landscape of the current world tour.
"This event will enable us to kick off our season with a major team event, with minimal impact on existing player schedules at the start of the year," he said.
"We believe this outcome will deliver long-term sustainability not only financially but also from a player health perspective, which is critical."
The ITF said the ATP's reintroduction of the World Team Cup would not change its commitment to proceed with a new 18-team one-week Davis Cup event in 2019.
Federations will vote at the ITF annual meeting in August on proposals to transform the Davis Cup at the end of the season in November.