The 3rd edition of the Laver Cup starts in under a week, this time being hosted in Geneva. It is an event that has provided a lot of entertainment for fans and players alike as we have enjoyed the bonding within both Team Europe and Team World.
However there is unfortunately no such equivalent for the women, even though they probably need it more. Due to the higher number a feuds on the WTA Tour, an event equivalent to the Laver Cup would only bring further spice and intensity to the sport. Until such tournament comes to fruition, this article goes about imagining what it could look like.
What would it be called?
It would only make sense for this tournament to be named after Steffi Graf and be called the Graf Cup. The Laver Cup is named after Rod Laver, who is the last man to complete the Calendar Year Grand Slam (CYGS) in 1969. Steffi Graf is the last woman to complete the CYGS, doing so in 1988.
Who would be the captains?
To keep the event contemporary, the captains would be ex-players that are not too much older than the players currently on tour. My selections would be Martina Hingis for Team Europe and Lindsay Davenport for Team World. As with captains for the Laver Cup (Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe), the captains for the Graf Cup need to have a history. Hingis and Davenport definitely have that with a notable rivalry1 spanning from 1995-2006, with the head to head 14-11 in the favour of Davenport. This history between the players would make for a further interesting dynamic at the event.
Which players would be selected?
As with the Laver Cup, there would be six players for each team. In order to bring some prestige and credibility to the event, there would be the following selection criteria:
- A shortlist would be made, consisting of players who have achieved an important piece of silverware in their careers (i.e. have reached a Grand Slam/Year-End championship final or won an Olympic medal). This event needs players who have a legacy.
- After the shortlist had been made given this criteria, the players with the highest win percentage that calendar year (in completed matches) would be selected. In order for the tournament to have high-quality tennis, we need players who are actually winning matches. However, there would initially be a quota of one player from each country.
- If all six spaces had not been filled, then the players with the highest win % would be selected to fill the remaining spaces. However, under no circumstances would there be more than two players from the same nation selected. This event should be international showcasing the diverse range of cultures who participate in the sport.
- If there are fewer than six players that have achieved an important piece of silverware, the highest ranked players for that region will be selected to fill in the remaining places.
Here are the teams this selection criteria would have resulted in for 2019:
|Name||Country||2019 Win Percentage2|
|Monica Puig||Puerto Rico||48.6%|
Above is the shortlist ordered in terms of their 2019 win percentage. As only five nations are represented in this list a second player from the USA was selected as they had the highest win percentage of the remaining players.
Therefore the squad selection for Team World would be: Bianca Andreescu, Serena Williams, Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, Monica Puig and Madison Keys.
|Name||Country||2019 Win Percentage2|
|Karolina Pliskova||Czech Republic||77.6%|
|Marketa Vondrousova||Czech Republic||76.3%|
|Petra Kvitova||Czech Republic||76.2%|
Above is the shortlist ordered in terms of their 2019 win percentage. As more than six nations are represented in this list, the top six players who also have the highest win % in their country were selected.
Therefore the squad selection for Team Europe would be: Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina, Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sharapova.
So there you have it! That is what a women’s equivalent to the Laver Cup could look like an I have to say it seems very exciting. Who would you choose as you your captain/squad for Team World and Team Europe? Let me know in the comments below!
- A notable tennis rivalry must satisfy the following requirements: i) Both players have a CH ranking of No.3 or better, and at least one of them must have reached No.1, ii) Both must have met >once in a GS SF/F iii) >11 career match-ups
- Win percentage consists of completed matches in 2019 up to and including the US Open