Rafa Nadal and Nick Kyrgios are set to face-off in Sydney after they committed to starting off the Australian summer of tennis in style as the headline stars leading the inaugural United Cup.
Before the Australian Open in 2023, a country-based competition will take place in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.
The top six WTA ranking-qualified countries, top five ATP ranking-qualified countries and the top five combined entry countries (making up 16 teams) will compete in a competition.
Australia will see Kyrgios and Ajla Tomjanovic join forces alongside Alex de Minaur, Jason Kubler, Zoe Hives, Maddison Inglis and doubles stars John Peers and Samantha Stosur rounding out Australia's eight-player line-up for the mixed teams' event from December 29 to January 8
While there has been speculation over Nadal's future in the game, the 23-time champ appears to have put it to bed having been announced as part of the Spanish line-up alongside World No.13 Paula Badosa.
Australia and Spain were both drawn in Group D, which will most likely see Kyrgios and Nadal play each other.
Emerging tennis powerhouse Italy can call on 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini and rising star Martina Trevisan in their strong team.
Other notable entries include Norway's world No.4 Casper Ruud, Germany's Alexander Zverev, and Switzerland's Belinda Bencic and Stan Wawrinka, along with dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.
Greece will be seeded the No.1 team for the tournament with Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas leading the nation.
The tennis world has lauded the star power heading to the inaugural event next year.
Many have also reacted with excitement at seeing Nadal on another campaign in Australia at least one more time.
Kyrgios-Nadal to start the year, why not.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) November 10, 2022
Great entry list for the new mixed United Cup, which will kick off the 2023 season: pic.twitter.com/7puQvb94zs
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 9, 2022
Good news for the event.
More details should be known in a couple of hours. https://t.co/2w5WLGLeMl
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) November 9, 2022
The United Cup has revealed its player entry list.
Headlined by Iga Swiatek and Rafael Nadal. Pretty cool. pic.twitter.com/iBCO8JTSuO
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) November 9, 2022
Novak Djokovic has not entered the United Cup, as he waits to find out whether the Australian government will waive his 3 year entry ban. So there’s no Serbia. Emma Raducanu also won’t be involved, but GB qualify via Cameron Norrie’s ranking
— Russell Fuller (@russellcfuller) November 10, 2022
United Cup field looks good. Draw at 1pm QLD time today #tennis
— Anthony Webb (@anthonyqld) November 10, 2022
The final two nations (one ATP and one combined entry) will be admitted to the competition on November 21.
This could leave room for Serbia to enter the draw if Novak Djokovic's visa ban is overturned.
Novak Djokovic waiting for three-year ban overturn
One notable absence from the United Cup is 21-time grand slam champion Djokovic.
Djokovic was infamously deported from Australia in the culmination of an extraordinary visa dispute that saw him detained upon arrival, at Melbourne airport in January.
The unvaccinated Serb was held by Border Force officials and later had his visa cancelled by then-Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who argued the World No.7's presence could "excite anti-vax sentiment" in Australia.
The cancellation of Djokovic's visa comes with an automatic three-year ban from entering the country, which the nine-time champion hopes to have overturned.
Recently, Djokovic admitted he was hopeful the ban would be overturned with his lawyers in contact with Australian officials.
He told Serbian website Sportal: "When it comes to Australia, there are some positive signs, but unofficially. We are communicating through my lawyers in Australia. In fact, they are communicating with the authorities in charge of my case.
"I hope to have an answer in the next few weeks - whatever that answer might be, but of course I am hoping for a positive one - so that I have enough time to prepare for the start of the season, if that start is going to happen in Australia."
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