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From Nadal & Djokovic to Barty & Serena, 2020 will come out blazing

From Nadal & Djokovic to Barty & Serena, 2020 will come out blazing

The new season is just around the corner and both tours will feature star-studded lineups to appropriately launch a new decade of tennis.

It may feel like the 2019 tennis season just wrapped up, but fans won’t have to wait too long to see the best players in the world again. The 2020 tennis season kicks off in less than four weeks with almost all of the top players in action somewhere around the world just a few days after the New Year arrives.

Nine of the ATP’s Top 10 scheduled to play ATP Cup in Week 1

The first tournament of 2020 will be the ATP Cup, a brand new team competition that takes place over a 10-day stretch from Friday, January 3 to Sunday, January 12. Two ATP stars from 24 different countries will battle it out in the group stages over the first six days in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, with the quarterfinals, semifinals and final taking place over the last four days, all in Sydney.

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Nine of the Top 10 players in the ATP rankings—No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No. 4 Dominic Thiem, No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Alexander Zverev, No. 8 Matteo Berrettini, No. 9 Roberto Bautista Agut and No. 10 Gael Monfils—are all scheduled to play the ATP Cup, as are a slew of other big names, including Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Nick Kyrgios.

“I like that it’s owned by the ATP, by the players, and that we have ranking points,” Djokovic said. “Also, 90-plus percent of the time we’re playing as individuals, and we don’t have many team events.

“It’s the best way to kick start the season.”

The ATP Cup isn’t the only ATP event in Week 1, with the 250-level Qatar ExxonMobil Open taking place in Doha, Qatar from Monday, January 6 to Sunday, January 12. World No. 16 Stan Wawrinka will be the top seed, with former Top 5 players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic also lurking in the draw.

The only men’s Top 10 player not competing at the ATP Cup will be No. 3 Roger Federer, who will kick off his 2020 season at the Australian Open. He’s played a series of exhibition events during the off-season, though, and his last one will come in the last week of December, between Christmas and New Year’s, in Hangzhou, China. Zverev is scheduled to play alongside Federer at the event.

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Another star-studded exhibition event will take even before that in Abu Dhabi from December 19 to 21, featuring five of the men’s Top 10: Nadal, Djokovic, Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Monfils. Abu Dhabi also has a women’s event: Maria Sharapova and Amanda Anisimova are scheduled to play that.

Nine of the WTA’s Top 10 scheduled to play in Week 1, too

There are three WTA events in Week 1 of the new season and the biggest of the three, the Premier-level Brisbane International, features six of the Top 10 women’s players in the world: No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, No. 3 Naomi Osaka, No. 6 Elina Svitolina, No. 7 Petra Kvitova and No. 9 Kiki Bertens. Former No. 1s Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams are also playing in Brisbane.

“After so many years on the tour, it’s good to play at new tournaments and to experience a different city,” said Venus, who’s going to play in Brisbane for the first time in her long career. “The Brisbane International is always spoken of so highly among the WTA players and I wanted to see it for myself.”

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There’s also a pair of International-level events in Week 1, with No. 8 Belinda Bencic headlining at the Shenzhen Open in Shenzhen, China, and No. 5 Bianca Andreescu and No. 10 Serena Williams—as well as American prodigy Coco Gauff—playing at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.

Serena played in Auckland in 2017, falling to Madison Brengle in the second round. She would win the Australian Open a few weeks later, then step away from the tour for a year to become a mom.

“I want to win that title so bad,” Serena said when it was announced she was returning to Auckland. “Last time I was there I had so much going on, and although I fought through, I didn’t play to my level. I have such amazing memories from Auckland, but I’d really like to add some on-court memories.”

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The only women’s Top 10 player not competing in Week 1 is No. 4 Simona Halep. The 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion will kick off her 2020 campaign in Week 2 in Adelaide.