Top 4 Takeaways from the Laver Cup
– Written by Ryan Sallmann, LCRAC Tennis Staff Professional
This September marked the inaugural installment of something new in professional tennis: The Laver Cup. The Laver Cup pitted Team Europe vs. Team World and brought a team aspect to what is usually an individual sport. The format closely resembled that of golf’s Ryder Cup and seemingly every tennis fan has shared their opinion.
While many hard core tennis enthusiasts were overjoyed to see some of the sports brightest stars playing competitive doubles matches together, others questioned the relevancy of the event and criticized its legitimacy. In spite of the critics, there are plenty of interesting things that came out of this event. Here are the top four that things that stuck out the most about the Laver Cup.
Team World was Better than Expected
When the event rosters were announced, it was obvious which team was the favorite. Team Europe was loaded with battle-tested firepower including three major winners and five players ranked in the top ten. They also had the top two players in the world and all-time legends in Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. On the other side was a collective total of two semi-final appearances (both coming from Sam Querrey), underachieving players in Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios, and two unproven youngsters in Denis Shopovolov and Frances Tiafoe. Going off of rankings, it was expected to be a cakewalk for Team Europe. However as the matches got underway, it became evident Team World wasn’t going down without a fight. On day one alone, there were seven sets decided by tiebreakers and two matches decided by a third set breaker. On the final day, Nick Kyrgios was just a third set tiebreaker away from leveling the event score at twelve points apiece and forcing a deciding match. In all, the event was highly contested and most matches were extremely close.
The Players Actually Cared
Going into the Laver Cup, there were huge questions about the effort that would be on display. Anything titled an “exhibition” can sometimes produce lackluster performances and players simply going through the motions. This was not the case at the Laver Cup. The players fully embraced the team atmosphere and looked more like high school players cheering on their comrades than stars just in it for a paycheck. In fact, Jack Sock was so invested he could be seen dancing and shooting imaginary arrows during John Isner’s upset victory over Rafael Nadal. The players were so invested that when Roger Federer finally prevailed over Nick Kyrgios to officially win the event for Team Europe, Rafael Nadal rushed the court and jumped into Federer’s arms. The effort the players put forth during the event was definitely one of the biggest keys to its success.
Federer and Nadal Still Reign Supreme
Federer and Nadal had nothing to prove after they collected two majors each in 2017, but that didn’t stop them from showcasing their talents yet again. The two legends were one of the most prominent reasons the Laver Cup was able to draw over 80,000 fans and sell out all five sessions. The two men also came up big for Team Europe and were an integral part of their victory. Nadal went 2-2 in his matches splitting his singles and doubles. Federer went 3-0 and led the way with seven of the team’s fifteens points. If nothing else, the first ever Laver Cup will be remembered for Nadal and Federer playing doubles together and embracing once the win was assured in a nice moment that neatly tied their legacy together once more.
The Laver Cup is Coming to America
The 2017 Laver Cup was played in overseas in Prague. Next year, however, it is coming to the United States. The United Center in Chicago will play host to what will most likely be a highly anticipated event in the tennis community. The best players in the world coming so close to home may be the catalyst the United States needs for its citizens to start caring more about the sport again. Keep an eye out for ticket info for an opportunity to see the best in the game duel it out with pride on the line.
The Laver Cup was indeed an interesting spectacle. For the critics, it was a gimmick resembling an All-Star game. For others, it was a refreshing addition to the sport and may be a big step forward in rejuvenating the game. If nothing else, the inaugural Laver Cup was certainly memorable enough to be appreciated. In addition, it may be the only time to see two of the biggest rivals in tennis become teammates.