Roger, Rafa and Other Top Players Play at First Annual Laver Cup
Top players are taking a weekend out of their schedule to play at the Laver Cup in Prague. The Laver Cup named after Hall of Fame Australian Rod Laver, is a team exhibition, that pits players from Europe against other countries in the world (mostly the United States this year). Team Europe is coached by tennis great Bjorn Borg and Team World is coached by Hall of Famer John McEnroe.
Upon looking at the roster of the two teams, most tennis fans might take notice to how lopsided one team looks on paper. On Team Europe are: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev and Tomas Berdych. On Team World is Jack Sock, Nick Kyrgios, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Francis Tiafoe (in for the injured Juan Martin Del Potro) and Denis Shapovalov.
Though players on team world like Kyrgios, Shapovalov have defeated the big names (Roger and Rafa) there is no denying that Team Europe are the heavy favorites. Five of the six players are in the top eight, with four of those players being in the top five rankings of the world (Berdych was a top ten player for years as well). So, suffice to say Team Europe’s confidence is through the roof.
To ensure the exhibition isn’t too strenuous for the players, the rules and format are unique. Here are the details:
The first team to reach 13 points wins the tournament.
There are 3 singles and 1 doubles match per day
1 point for wins on Friday: 2 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday
If tied after 12 matches, 1 doubles set to decide
No one can play 3 singles matches
There are other unique elements the Laver Cup has adopted. Matchups are determined blindly with coaches having no knowledge of who will play each other. The coaches do get to pick players in what is known as the “captain’s pick” match. So, there is still an element of strategy, especially since players can only play twice. The Laver Cup also adopted the super tiebreaker in the final set of a match.
It should be an exciting weekend of tennis with tennis elites and next generation players taking center stage. Though fans love to see epic battles between Roger and Rafa, it will be very interesting to see them play on the same team and possibly play doubles together. Roger, who was instrumental in the process of the Laver Cup, said in an interview “Rafa and I have faced each other across the net countless times … it will be exciting to see what we can accomplish together.” Most will be praying Coach Borg makes that decision.
The Laver Cup airs on the Tennis Channel from September 22 to September 24.
Team Europe has a 2-0 lead with Marin Cilic defeating Francis Tiafoe in straight sets and Dominic Thiem coming from a set down to defeat John Isner.