SYDNEY (AP)A new team competition with $15 million in prize money will open the 2023 tennis season ahead of the Australian Open.

Tennis Australia announced the formation of the United Cup on Friday, saying it will involve women and men from 18 countries competing from Dec. 29 to Jan. 8. Matches will be played in groups at Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

Each squad will include up to four women and up to four men at the event, which will have 500 WTA and 500 ATP rankings points available.

Each contest will include four matches in singles – two between women and two between men – and one in mixed doubles.

The winners of each group will advance to a final-four playoff in Sydney from Jan. 6-8. The next-best performing team from the group stages will complete the four teams in the finals.

Australia is guaranteed a spot in the field; other nations will qualify based on WTA and ATP rankings.

”The United Cup is an important and strategic collaboration between the WTA, the ATP and Tennis Australia that reflects a continued commitment in elevating our sport . . . giving players and fans a unique experience in which the final outcome may be determined with women and men competing together,” WTA chairman and chief executive Steve Simon said in a statement

The season’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins at Melbourne Park on Jan. 16.

More AP tennis: and