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Tennis • Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov Headline Melbourne 1 • Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic set for ATP Cup

Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland in action during his quarter-final match at the Rolex Paris Masters, November 2020.

By Ricky Dimon

With season-opening events in Antalya and Delray Beach having come and gone, we are now experiencing the calm before the storm that will be February in Australia. Following two weeks without tennis, a pair of 250-point tournaments in Melbourne will accompany the ATP Cup during the first week of February.

Both Melbourne 1 and Melbourne 2 will have draws of 48 players, meaning 16 will receive first-round byes.

The Melbourne 1 field is currently highlighted by Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Borna Coric. Also participating are Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz, Ugo Humbert, Marin Cilic, Richard Gasquet, and Frances Tiafoe. This event is officially called the Great Ocean Road Open (the Great Ocean Road is a 151-mile stretch of highway along the southeastern coast of Australia).

Taking place simultaneously from Sunday, Jan. 31 through Saturday, Feb. 6 is Melbourne 2–known officially as the Murray River Open (the Murray River is Australia’s longest river, spanning 1,558 miles in the southeastern part of the continent). Among the headliners are David Goffin, Karen Khachanov, Hubert Hurkacz, Jannik Sinner, and Alexander Bublik. Hurkacz will be trying to stay hot after capturing his second career title in Delray Beach, while Bublik finished runner-up in Antalya.

The ATP Cup–also in Melbourne–will be held from Monday, Feb. 1 through Friday, Feb. 5.

Participating nations are defending champion Serbia, 2020 runner-up Spain, Austria, Russia, Greece, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Japan, France, Canada, and Australia. Massive star power comes in the form of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev.

Dominic Thiem of Austria celebrates winning his match against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during day 4 of the ATP Cup tennis tournament, January 2020.

The draw, which will divide the 12 teams into four groups of three, is set for Jan. 20.

“Last year we launched the global tennis season with the inaugural ATP Cup,” tournament director Tom Larner reflected. “It was a huge success with both players and fans, and we are excited to present the second edition in Melbourne in 2021. The players are looking forward to stepping up and representing their countries again, and the field, including defending champions Serbia and finalists Spain, is strong. This is a format that shows off the passion of the players and we’re expecting some spectacular tennis action.”

Players are just now arriving in Melbourne and will quarantine for two weeks before the festivities begin.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.