What is it?
The fresh face on both the Australian and international sporting calendar, the ATP Cup - starting Friday - is set to pit the world's top 24 male tennis-playing nations against each other to crown the inaugural winner.
Split into six groups of four, the competition is also split across three Australian cities - Brisbane, Perth and Sydney - with the finals to be played at the freshly redeveloped Ken Rosewall Arena at Sydney Olympic Park.
Each tie within the competition will feature three matches - two best-of-three set singles and a match-tiebreak, no-advantage doubles - with the winners of each pool and two best-finishing second-placers to go through to the semi-finals.
The participating nations have gained entry into the tournament off the back of their highest-ranked singles player, creating a large gap between first and second for nations like Georgia - Nikoloz Basilashvili is ranked 26 with next best Aleksandre Metreveli sitting in 679.
Creating such a large tournament on a grand scale was never going to be easy and in order to do so, the Australian tennis calendar was hit with a massive shake-up that some view as positive, others negative.
Last year's pre-Australian Open competition saw tournaments in Perth (Hopman Cup mixed event), Brisbane (ATP and WTA), Sydney (ATP and WTA) and Hobart (WTA).
This season, gone is the time-honoured tradition of the Hopman Cup, the Brisbane International will be a female-only event played alongside the pointy-end of the ATP Cup group stages and the Adelaide International, not played since 2008, has been re-birthed.
Held only six weeks after the also-revamped Davis Cup finals, many tennis fans have been questioning the decision to have two eerily similar events held in such close proximity but the ATP Cup has one major thing on offer that the other historical teams event doesn't - ranking points.
A maximum 750 points will be on offer for a lucky player to go through the tournament undefeated, with players ranked outside the top 300 offered significantly less for a win to not derail the system and see a rapid rise through the ranks.
Despite the addition of ranking points, the new kid on the block will actually feature less prizemoney on offer than the Davis Cup, with teams competing for a share in the measly 15 million US dollar ($21.3 AUD) cheque.
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Who is playing?
Eight of the world's top-10 players will make the trip to Australia with only Switzerland's Roger Federer and Italy's Matteo Berrettini not taking part.
Both players were originally scheduled to compete before Federer pulled the pin on October 30 citing personal reasons, which also ruled his country out of the competition and Berrettini succumbed to an abdominal injury.
The full list of countries is: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain, South Africa, United States of America and Uruguay.
Coach of John Isner and the Bryan brothers, the 52-year-old holds a dual Australian-US citizenship and the event will be the first time he has worked in an on-court captaincy role.
.@rogerfederer has announced that he will not play #ATPCup due to family reasons and therefore Switzerland has been withdrawn as a country that qualified at the first entry deadline.— ATPCup (@ATPCup) October 30, 2019
An additional six countries will now qualify at the second entry deadline. pic.twitter.com/eU88fsHYFj
How will Australia fare?
The Australians' draw is one that's actually quite tough with top-ranked Aussie, Alex De Minaur, set to take on Germany's Alex Zverev, Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas and Canada's Denis Shapovalov on the singles court.
The task gets slightly easier for everyone's favourite, Nick Kyrgios, with the polarising figure bound to set foot against Jan-Lennard Struff, 487th-ranked Michail Pervolarakis and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
John Millman is the country's third singles player while doubles specialist John Peers will presumably regularly partner returning big-server, Chris Guccione, who at 34 years old, hasn't played a tour match since the 2017 Australian Open.
Despite the rough draw, the Australians thrive off team-based competition, recently making the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup before being knocked out by upcoming opponents Canada.
Team captain Lleyton Hewitt has already stated the green and gold army are hungry for revenge and on home soil, the stars could align for a ripping contest on January 5 in Brisbane.
Who is winning?
At the risk of making a bold prediction and completely making a meal of it, I'm going with tennis as the winner.
But, if you want an actual, well thought out answer, it is incredibly hard to go past reigning Davis Cup champions Spain.
Possessing the number one player in the world, Rafael Nadal, the Spaniards also feature an array of very handy back-up talent with Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Feliciano Lopez all at their disposal.
The sport's most dominant country should have little trouble breezing through the group stages facing Japan (without their best player, Kei Nishikori), Uruguay and Georgia, getting themselves warmed up to face the highest-ranked runner-up in the quarter-finals.
Expect Serbia, Belgium, Russia, USA, Croatia, Austria and Canada to join Spain in the quarter-finals with the Australians to just miss out on qualification, finishing second in their pool behind new arch-rivals, Canada.
Friday, January 3 - Wednesday, January 8
Group stages in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney
Thursday, January 9 - Sunday, January 12
Top 8 finals in Sydney
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