What makes the Laver Cup special?
Since its inaugural edition in 2017, the Laver Cup has gone from strength to strength. The three-day, Ryder Cup style competition between team Europe and team World attracts the biggest names and has grown into a must-see event in the packed professional tennis calendar.
With a unique scoring system (awarding more points for matches won on each day), shorter matches, on court coaching and an electric crowd atmosphere, the Laver Cup has taken exhibition tennis to a new level. Each team has a captain, with fire and ice matching up against each other as John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg oversee the teams. Seeing how players approach matches and to see them offer advice to each other is all available to the public as cameras capture everything from the court to the locker rooms.
The thing that really makes the Laver Cup special is how much the players care about it, despite not receiving ATP ranking points. Team tennis events are always interesting, but particularly when you have some of the greatest ever players playing on the same team. To see Federer and Nadal coach younger players throughout their matches and even play together in doubles (2017), is something you only see at the Laver Cup. Combine that with the team spirit and on court celebrations and you have something special. The players live for the team spirit and comradery, with Rafa saying that “losing is less painful together, and winning is better”.
Is the competition too one-sided?
Team Europe have won all three editions of the Laver Cup. Despite this year’s tournament going down to a deciding super tiebreaker, Europe have a stacked team. It has been over a decade since a non-European player has won a slam. Personally, I think it’s good that team World haven’t won the title yet (though I am slightly biased being European). It means that they will be back next year with even more vengeance and determination. After coming so close, they will want it so much more in 2020, when the competition heads stateside to Boston.
Tennis needs the kind of excitement that we see in the Laver Cup. It’s refreshing as a fan to see team tennis that appeals to the masses and not just to hard-core tennis fans. I hope that it continues to keep the same importance to players that it currently has when the bigger names like Federer and Nadal retire, as they seem to really drive the teams. After the tournament in a press conference, Borg said that “This [Laver Cup] is one of the best things that has happened to tennis”. Both Borg and McEnroe have extended their captaincy roles until at least next year.