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Davis Cup, Laver Cup getting new companion

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LONDON — The Davis Cup and the Laver Cup are getting a new team-competition companion.

The men’s tennis tour said Thursday the debut of the ATP Cup will take place in January 2020, just a week before the start of the Australian Open.

The announcement of the 24-team event comes three months after the International Tennis Federation – backed by a group of investors spearheaded by Barcelona soccer player Gerard Pique – said it would hold a one-week competition for 18 nations in Madrid in November 2019.

The ATP Cup will be played over 10 days in three yet-to-be-confirmed Australian cities.

“You can have multiple team events, that’s not the issue,” ATP president Chris Kermode said. “The issue is that the timing is so close and I get that. I’m really, really confident that down the line we will find a resolution for this.”

The ATP Cup, which will offer $15 million in prize money for players, will be held in partnership with Tennis Australia. The location and timing is intended to provide ideal preparation ahead of the Australian Open, with the first Grand Slam of the season starting in Melbourne a week later.

Tennis Australia is also a partner of the Laver Cup, another annual team competition, which began in 2017 and pits European players against a “World” team in September.

“We’ll make sure that in 2020 we run a great event and we’ll do whatever we can in partnership with the tour and others to ensure that Davis Cup is also a magnificent global event,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said.

Nations will qualify for the ATP Cup by virtue of the ranking of their highest-seeded player and will then be split into six groups of four to compete in a round robin, which will feature one doubles contest and two singles matches.

Unlike the Davis Cup, the ATP Cup will offer ranking points, which will be based on individual results. A player who wins all his matches – and the tournament – could claim 750 points.

The launch took place at the O2 Arena in London, where the men’s tennis tour’s flagship event, the ATP Finals, is currently taking place.

“We have Davis Cup, obviously, that has been the most historical team event,” said top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the president of the ATP Player Council. “And now we have the ATP Cup that is definitely going to be right up there in terms of its value from the players’ perspective.”

The ATP formerly held a World Team Cup in Dusseldorf, Germany, which ran for 35 years but was discontinued in 2012.

“All of us players around the world are unified and united in this event,” American player John Isner said. “It’s the perfect week for it. Everyone wants to be in tip-top shape come the Australian Open and this event is going to allow us to do that.”

Bencic beats 2-time defending champ Svitolina in Dubai semi

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Unseeded Belinda Bencic stopped Elina Svitolina’s bid for a third consecutive title at the Dubai Championships by beating her 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals Friday.

The 45th-ranked Bencic won her third match in a row against a top-10 opponent and will face yet another, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, in Saturday’s final at the hard-court tournament.

Kvitova advanced to her third final of 2019 by edging Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The No. 2-seeded Kvitova picked up her tour-high 17th victory of 2019.

Bencic is seeking her third career title, Kvitova her 27th.

Against No. 6 seed Svitolina, Bencic trailed 5-3 in the third set. This was her latest in a string of comebacks. She saved six match points against eighth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, then erased a set deficit to beat third-seeded Simona Halep in the quarterfinals.

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Bencic upsets Halep to reach Dubai semifinals

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Unseeded Belinda Bencic rallied to beat second-ranked Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Thursday to reach the Dubai Championships semifinals.

Bencic, who saved six match points in the previous round against Aryna Sabalenka, failed to capitalize on an early break in the first set but Halep continued to struggle with her serve and was broken seven times in total. Bencic broke for a 5-4 lead in the second and then raced out to a 3-0 lead in the decider, having won six games in a row. Halep, who was playing her ninth match in 13 days after reaching the final in Qatar last week, got one break back but Bencic broke again for a 5-2 lead before converting her third match point.

Second-seeded Petra Kvitova had no such problems, winning the last eight games to oust Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0 to book her spot in the last four. Kvitova, the 2013 Dubai champion, needed just 62 minutes to wrap up the win. She will next face Su-wei Hsieh of Taiwan, who came from 5-1 down in the final set to beat fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. It was the latest upset for Hsieh, who ousted Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber on Wednesday.

In the final quarterfinal, Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain was playing Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports