Scouting Report

Scouting Report: Djokovic, Swiatek Headline United Cup; Nadal Returns In Brisbane, Rublev In Hong Kong

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week
December 28, 2023
The 2024 season starts with the United Cup and ATP 250 events in Brisbane and Hong Kong.
Getty Images/ATP Tour
The 2024 season starts with the United Cup and ATP 250 events in Brisbane and Hong Kong. By ATP Staff

The 2024 season will start with a bang, with the world’s best players competing at the United Cup. World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek will take to court in Perth, while Stefanos Tsitsipas and Angelique Kerber are among those in action in Sydney at the 18-country mixed-teams event.

Rafael Nadal will make his long-awaited return at the Brisbane International presented by Evie, an ATP 250 hard-court event also featuring Holger Rune and Grigor Dimitrov. Andrey Rublev leads the field at the Bank of China Hong Kong Tennis Open, where the tournament will be held for the first time since 2002. looks at five things to watch at each event.

1) Star Power Field: The second edition of the United Cup will feature nine of the world’s Top 20 men, including Djokovic, Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud. Five of the world’s Top 10 women will compete, including Swiatek, Jessica Pegula, Maria Sakkari and Marketa Vondrousova.

2) Home Favourites Australia: Captain Lleyton Hewitt will aim to bring home fans joy and guide Team Australia to the title at the mixed-teams event. The home nation will be spearheaded by Alex de Minaur in Perth, with Ajla Tomljanovic the women’s No. 1 singles player. De Minaur earned victory against Nadal in the round-robin stage at the tournament last year. Australia is in Group C with Team Great Britain and Team USA.

3) Defending Champions USA: Team USA won the inaugural edition of the United Cup 12 months ago, defeating Team Italy in the final. Aiming to retain its title this year, Taylor Fritz and Jessica Pegula return for Team USA. Fritz and Pegula both won four of their five singles matches at the event last season. They also teamed to earn wins in three mixed doubles clashes.

4) Djokovic Makes Debut: Djokovic will make his debut at the United Cup, leading Team Serbia in Group E in Perth. The 36-year-old has a standout record in Australia, having won the Australian Open a record 10 times. He has also triumphed in Adelaide twice (2007, 2023). The 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM champion Hamad Medjedovic will also represent Team Serbia.

5) Action In Perth & Sydney: Group stage and quarter-final action will be held in Perth and Sydney. Three teams in Group A, three in Group C and three in Group E will battle at RAC Arena in Perth from 29 December until 3 January, when they will attempt to qualify for the United Cup Finals to be held at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre from 6-7 January.

Group B, Group D and Group F action commences in Sydney on 30 December, with three teams in each group. Each tie will consist of three rubbers, one men’s singles, one women’s singles and a mixed doubles.

1) Nadal Is Back: Nadal will compete for the first time since last season's Australian Open when he takes to court in Brisbane. The Spaniard, who has endured a long comeback road after struggling with an injury to his iliopsoas, will make his second appearance at the ATP 250, having also competed in Brisbane in 2017. Nadal won two titles in Australia in 2022, lifting trophies at the Australian Open and at an ATP 250 tournament in Melbourne.

You May Also Like: Before Nadal Makes Brisbane Return, Flash Back To His First Appearance

2) Event Returns For First Time Since 2019: Located at the Queensland Tennis Centre, the Brisbane International presented by Evie returns for the first time since 2019. Former champions at the tournament include Roger Federer, who at the 2015 edition lifted the trophy and earned his 1000th match win.

3) Young Stars In Action: The 20-year-old’s Holger Rune and Ben Shelton will both make their Brisbane debuts. Rune, currently No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, went 44-24 last season, qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals. Shelton enjoyed a breakthrough year, rising to a career-high No. 15. The American advanced to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last season.

4) Former Champions In Action: Grigor Dimitrov and Andy Murray have both tasted success in Brisbane before and compete in Queensland again this year. Dimitrov lifted the trophy in 2017, while former World No. 1 Murray is a two-time champion (2012, 2013).

5) Home Hopes: Alexei Popyrin, Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson lead Australian hopes in Brisbane. Umag champion Popyrin reached the quarter-finals in Adelaide last season, while Purcell’s best 2023 result was a quarter-final run in Cincinnati. Thompson is making his third appearance in Brisbane, having reached the last eight in 2017.

1) Rublev Headlines Field: Andrey Rublev will kick off his season in Hong Kong as the top seed. The World No. 5 won tour-level crowns in Monte-Carlo and Bastad in 2023. His past title triumph on hard courts came in Gijon in 2022.

2) Hong Kong Returns: ATP Tour action returns to Hong Kong for the first time since 2002 this week with the Bank of China Hong Kong Tennis Open, which will be held at Victoria Park Tennis Stadium. Former champions include Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

3) Khachanov, Tiafoe & Fils In Action: Karen Khachanov, Frances Tiafoe and Arthur Fils will take to court in Hong Kong. Khachanov won a title in Asia last season in Zhuhai. Fils, who trained with Nadal during the off-season, arrives having reached the title match at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM earlier this month. Tiafoe will aim to add to his three tour-level trophies in Hong Kong.

4) Cilic Returns: Marin Cilic will compete for the first time since July. The Croatian played just two tour-level matches last season due to a persistent knee injury. The 35-year-old is a 20-time tour-level champion.

Khachanov/Rublev In Doubles Action: Khachanov and Rublev were voted as the Fans' Favourite doubles team in the 2023 ATP Awards. Supporters will have the chance to watch the pair in action again at the start of the 2024 season when they team in Hong Kong. Marcelo Arevalo and Mate Pavic will begin their partnership at the ATP 250.

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