May 20 (Reuters) - The ATP Cup's provisional standings were launched on Monday as countries vie to be among the 24 teams set to take part in the inaugural tournament in Australia next January.
The provisional standings take into account the ATP ranking position of a country's top-ranked singles player, with Serbia and Spain occupying the top two spots thanks to world number one Novak Djokovic and number two Rafa Nadal respectively.
"The ATP Cup standings are already beginning to take shape and the players are excited to see this come to life," ATP's chief player officer Ross Hutchins said in a statement.
"It's going to be intriguing to see the countries battle in the coming months to earn their berths."
The rankings will be updated every Monday when new ATP rankings are released and will continue until the event's two entry deadlines.
The first 18 teams and their players must confirm their participation by Sept. 13, while the remaining six teams have until Nov. 13.
Host nation Australia will be awarded a wild card entry if they do not qualify by the first deadline, leaving only five remaining spots before the second deadline.
Britain have a protected ranking of three as they wait on Andy Murray's potential return from hip surgery while Roger Federer's Switzerland are ranked fourth.
Murray will be eligible to enter the ATP Cup ahead of the entry deadlines if his protected ranking is still valid at the time of the event.
The 24 teams will be divided into six groups of four and two groups each will play in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, with the knockout stages in Sydney featuring six group winners and the two best second-placed teams.
The ATP Cup, which will have two best-of-three sets singles matches and one doubles match, has 750 singles ranking points, 250 doubles ranking points and $15 million in prize money up for grabs.
The ATP Cup is also considered a rival team event to the revamped 18-nation Davis Cup competition, billed as a soccer-style World Cup of tennis, starting in Madrid in November.
ATP Cup standings
8 South Africa
10 United States (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)