World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic are headlining the new team competition. (Getty)

It's finally upon us: the inaugural, season-starting ATP Cup—a World Cup-style team event contested among top men's player's from 24 nations. 

With six groups, three host cities and an unconventional format, it can all be a lot to take in. So here are some key elements to take note of for when the tournament kicks off in Australia on Friday (Thursday night in the U.S.).

1

Superstar Talent

Though Roger Federer and Andy Murray will both be absent, the event is headlined by world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic. In total, eight of the ATP Top 10 are expected to play. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

G’Day @atpcup! ???????????????? #TeamSerbia #Idemooo

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2

Stacked Squads 

As if having Nadal weren't enough, Spain boasts strong players throughout its lineup, with No. 9 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 27 Pablo Carreno Busta, No. 41 Albert Ramos-Vinolas and No. 62 Feliciano Lopez. 

Additionally, Australia has both Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios, Canada brings the young talent of Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, Croatia features Borna Coric and Marin Cilic, France has four Top 25 players across singles and doubles, Russia has rising stars Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov, and the USA has John Isner and Taylor Fritz. 

For fans of smaller countries, such as Bulgaria and Moldova, it'll also be an opportunity to see some lesser-known players compete alongside their higher-ranked teammates.  

A full list of teams and players can be found here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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3

Blockbuster Matchups 

The first stage of the tournament has a round-robin format, so some groups are more loaded with big matches than others, most notably Group F, which has Germany, Greece, Canada and Australia. 

Here are some scheduled singles matchups that stand out: 

Friday

Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. Shapovalov (CAN)

​Medvedev (RUS) vs. Fabio Fognini (ITA)

De Minaur (AUS) vs. Alexander Zverev (GER)
 

Saturday

Djokovic (SRB) vs. Kevin Anderson (RSA)

Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs. Coric (CRO) 
 

Sunday

Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs. Kyrgios (AUS)

Shapovalov (CAN) vs. De Minaur (AUS) 

Fritz (USA) vs. Khachanov (RUS)

Isner (USA) vs. Medvedev (RUS)

A. Zverev (GER) vs. Tsitsipas (GRE) 
 

Monday 

Thiem (AUT) vs. Diego Schwartzman (ARG)

Djokovic (SRB) vs. Monfils (FRA) 
 

Tuesday 

David Goffin (BEL) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 

A. Zverev (GER)  vs. Shapovalov (CAN) 

Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. De Minaur (AUS)
 

Wednesday

Thiem (AUT) vs. Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 

Djokovic (SRB) vs. Cristian Garin (CHI)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Good night from #Brisbane ????????!

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4

Double Trouble

Much like the Hopman Cup from years past, each tie consists of two singles matches and one doubles match. Team captains will get to be creative in picking the doubles pairings, and the doubles point will no doubt be crucial. So the ATP Cup will likely be a great showcase for both the fun and competitive sides of doubles—as well a treat for fans. 

5

Where and When

The tournament begins on Friday in Australia, but in the U.S., that means 6 p.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 2. The round-robin stage takes place over six days, with groups based in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane. The knockout quarterfinal rounds are played in Sydney, with the final scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 12.