With the groups set and the draw unveiled, the countdown is on for the 2021 ATP Cup, which begins on 2 February in Melbourne. The event pits 12 countries against each other across four groups as they compete for a spot in the semi-finals.
All countries were qualified based on the FedEx ATP Rankings of their No. 1 singles players. But in a team tournament where depth is key, there are plenty of highly ranked No. 2 players to watch.
Leading the pack is 23-year-old Andrey Rublev, No. 8 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The second-ranked Russian will team up with No. 4 Daniil Medvedev to make powerhouse Team Russia the only country to feature two Top 10 singles players.
It’s a testament to just how rapid Rublev’s rise has been: he was ranked outside the Top 20 around the time of last year’s ATP Cup, and wasn’t the No. 2 Russian. Now, after earning a Tour-leading five trophies in 2020 and qualifying for his first Nitto ATP Finals, Rublev is ready to take on the ATP Cup.
Milos Raonic is also set to make his ATP Cup debut as Canada’s No. 2 player. Raonic, who rose from No. 32 to No. 14 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2020, will share singles duties with No. 12 Denis Shapovalov.
“I think for us [the key is] going to be depth,” Raonic said of having two Top 20 singles players in Team Canada. “That’s going to be important. I believe we’re probably up there among a few of the top teams that have a higher average ranking compared to other teams. Especially when you have to win two out of the three matches, I think that could be a great advantage for us and something that pays dividends.”
Top 5 No. 2 Singles Players At ATP Cup By FedEx ATP Rankings
|Andrey Rublev||Russia||No. 8|
|Roberto Bautista Agut||Spain||No. 13|
|Milos Raonic||Canada||No. 15|
|Fabio Fognini||Italy||No. 17|
|Dusan Lajovic||Serbia||No. 26|
Other standout No. 2 players are Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who are both ranked inside the Top 20 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. World No. 13 Bautista Agut finished last year’s tournament with a perfect 6-0 record (12-0 in sets) to help guide Spain to the final, while No. 17 Fognini earned three wins from five matches across singles and doubles.
World No. 26 Dusan Lajovic is also one to watch after he helped Team Serbia claim the inaugural ATP Cup title last year. Lajovic is ready to reprise his role alongside World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, amassing a 4-2 win-loss record at last year’s event.
“Representing your country is an honour that you only have once or twice in a year,” said Serbian No. 2 Lajovic. “The whole concept of being in a team, it’s a very rare opportunity for us. You’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing for your team. And in this case, you’re playing for the people who are also your friends, and that makes it even more special.”