The Laver Cup – An Instant Success

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Laver Cup

The inaugural edition of the Laver Cup was questioned by many. People did not see the point of putting so much passion and enthusiasm into a so-called ‘exhibition event’. Since the first point, the Laver Cup has become an instant success.

Rivals Become Teammates

The refreshing new competition on the tennis calendar sees big stars and rivals become teammates as Europe take on the World. Tennis legends John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg give their insightful knowledge to their respective teams. Team Europe is packed full of quality names –  Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Tomas Berdych. The talent of the Europe team is so rich that they combine to make a total of a staggering 36 Grand Slam singles trophies. The World team is a mix of youth and experience guided by John McEnroe. Jack Sock, Nick Kyrgios, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe are the underdogs taking on the mighty European Team.
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How often do you see this many stars of the sport working together? It is a truly wonderful spectacle to witness. Throughout the tournament you have seen the likes of Federer and Nadal cheering on fellow teammates such as Thiem and Cilic. At one point you even saw young Alexander Zverev being given some tips by Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg during a changeover – that is 30 Grand Slams worth of advice! The event has also given us the first ever doubles pairing named “Federer/Nadal”, arguably the two greatest players of all time teaming up to represent Europe.

Dominic Thiem was also lucky enough to receive words of wisdom from tennis legends, “To have absolute legend [Bjorn Borg] on the bench with me, and then to get advice from Roger and Rafa, you cannot be higher in tennis”. This event is so compelling because it is something we have never seen before and there is no doubt that Thiem would like it to continue.
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Frances Tiafoe finds the team environment electric as he said “It’s just kind of like a Davis Cup feel but even better because it’s among friends and not only for your country.” You can really see the camaraderie between the players especially on the World Team bench during matches; every big point is reacted with a carefully pre-planned celebration. The enjoyment the players are feeling is truly refreshing and creates a good mixture with the ruthless passion they are showing.

The ATP World Tour can be lonely at times and no one will testify more to this than Nick Kyrgios. He himself has said in the past that he suits a team environment so it is no surprise that he absolutely loves the Laver Cup. “I love being part of a team atmosphere. You win together, you lose together, but there’s no ‘I’ in team”.
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Engaging Scoring System

Another component that the Laver Cup has got spot on is the scoring system, not only for the matches but for the tie. The matches are best of three sets with a championship tiebreak to ten points being played if it is one set all. The new event is staged at a physically demanding part of the season so by them shortening the third set it allows players to play their best as well as having energy in the tank for the next few months. A decisive tiebreak also adds additional pressure and entertainment because it is the perfect climax for a match. Even more pressure is added in because the players are playing for their teams and not only for themselves – which creates a fantastic show.

The scoring system for the tie is innovative yet intelligent. A match win on day one is worth one point, a match win on day two is worth two points and a match win on the last day is worth three points. The team who accumulates thirteen points first is declared the champions of the Laver Cup. This is beneficial to both players and fans because it is never over. No matter what the score is, everything is up for grabs because points on the last day are worth more. This allows fans to see important, competitive matches and it allows the players to still fight for the Laver Cup. A few big performances on day three can determine who wins the first edition of the event.
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Laver Cup Passion

Going into the event many people were sceptical that this could just become another exhibition glittered with tweeners and minimal fight like World Tennis Day or the IPTL. Instead it has been quite the opposite with players from both teams giving everything they have got to win their matches. If you add a pinch of passion into an event it can only be good and the Laver Cup has quite a few spoonfuls of it. Rafael Nadal has demonstrated the same will to win as he did at the US Open, “This is not an exhibition. I woke up today at 6am to practise. I don’t practise for an exhibition match. We are here to try our best and try to win”.
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Marin Cilic has also showed his drive and determination to win the Laver Cup, “People were questioning if this is going to be an exhibition, but for none of us this is exhibition,” he explained, “We are very much into it. We prepared really well”.

The players are not only displaying their dying desire on the court however. Roger Federer said, “We have been strategizing from our side.” It is crazy to imagine a blueprint to a match analysed by Borg, Federer and Nadal but it is not a reality after all. Doubters can doubt all they want but if the players are giving their all then that is what really matters.
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The Court

Throughout the tennis year we are used to seeing many different courts but with the same few colours. It is refreshing to see a different colour court than we are used to just like when we first land our eyes on lush grass courts after a long stretch on the red clay. The Laver Cup is played on a black court which suits the event so well. The event is a slick, stylish and classy event and this is emphasised with the black surface. The player’s kits also go easy on the eye because they are a dash of enhanced colour over the dark court beneath them. Add this to the growing list of the things the Laver Cup has got right.
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Entertainment

Whatever your view is on the Laver Cup you cannot disagree that entertaining tennis is good tennis. The Laver Cup has got it all – whether you like watching relentless attack or intelligent counterpunching; reserved personalities or expressive characters; dominant performances or tight matches; instinctive youth or tactical experience. Add in the fact that you have got the planet’s best tennis players and it creates a lethal combination. There is a clash of styles and personalities on each team which enhances the beauty of the event. Sport is a form of entertainment and the Laver Cup has been blockbuster.

The first edition of the Laver Cup turned a lot of heads and divided opinions but it has turned out to be an instant success. Seeing tennis legends and rivals become teammates is magical in itself. The scoring system adds to the competition which is fuelled by the burning passion of the players. The court symbolises the event which has been extremely entertaining. I cannot wait for the Laver Cup to return.

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