Novak Djokovic believes new ATP Cup will attract top players

Novak Djokovic
World number one Novak Djokovic has backed the ATP Cup plans

World number one Novak Djokovic has backed the new ATP Cup team event, saying it will provide incentives for leading players to take part.

Djokovic appeared with the ATP and Tennis Australia on Thursday to confirm the event will start in January 2020 as a curtain-raiser to the men's season.

A revamped Davis Cup tournament will take place in November from 2019.

On Wednesday, Djokovic said he thought two rival events within six weeks would not be "good for the sport".

The 31-year-old Serb said he feared the situation - which he described as "delicate" - could lead to two "average" events.

"I think in the next two years we'll have both events happening in a very similar format if not the same, six weeks apart," the 14-time Grand Slam winner said.

"We have the longest season in all sports. We're just adding events. We kind of have to try to focus on quality rather than quantity."

"I think creating one event is an ideal scenario and I think outcome for everyone."

The ATP Cup will have prize money of £11.35m. It will feature 24 nations in six groups of four and up to 750 ranking points will be available for the winners.

Three Australian cities will host the 2020 event, which will run from 3-12 January and lead into the Australian Open, which starts on 20 January.

Meanwhile, the ITF competition will be an 18-team end-of-season event, which will crown the Davis Cup champions.

The controversial proposals to revamp the Davis Cup were backed by national tennis federations in August, although players were not consulted.

Djokovic, who is the ATP Player Council president, said at the launch of the ATP Cup in London that it was an attractive proposal for the players.

"Having ranking points as an option is obviously an incentive for players," he said.

"We have a lot of incentives and the biggest one, I'm sure, is playing for your country.

"We have the Davis Cup, which has been the most historical team event, and now we have the ATP Cup, which is definitely going to be right up there in terms of the value from the players' perspective."

Earlier in the week, Germany's world number five Alexander Zverev said he felt none of the top players would play in the Davis Cup.

Analysis

Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

The ATP Cup will almost certainly be an innovative and enjoyable experience, but the fact remains it will go ahead six weeks after the Davis Cup Finals - even though the head of the ATP said that would be "insane".

What's more, both events will be very similar in format.

The ATP prize fund is impressive, albeit US$5m less than the money Kosmos is offering for the revamped Davis Cup.

But the ATP can offer the added pull of up to 750 ranking points for members of the winning team at a time of year which suits the players.

November, in contrast, is a terrible time for a team competition as bodies are tired and injuries rife. Kosmos' founder Gerard Pique wants the Davis Cup to be staged earlier in the year, but ideally needs the co-operation of the ATP.

Talks continue, but unless common ground is found, there remains a major question mark over the long-term sustainability of the Davis Cup.

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