Mandatory Credit: Photo by ddp USA/REX/Shutterstock (5841920a)
Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal, Rod Laver, Roger Federer, John McEnroe
Laver Cup tennis tournament press conference, New York, USA - 24 Aug 2016
The Laver Cup will be a three-day tournament with the six best players from Europe against te six best players from the rest of the world.
Up to 2020, the European team will be captained by Bjorn Borg and the Rest of the World team will be captained by John McEnroe, as these two former greats of the game re-kindle their rivalry.
The tournament has been named in honour of Rod Laver – still held in high esteem by many of the modern players as the greatest of all time – he won a Grand Slam (i.e. all four Slam titles in a calendar year) twice, both as an amateur and professional.
The players will play singles and pair up in doubles.
Who has signed up?
Apart from Captains Borg and McEnroe, the launch in New York featured Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who have already committed to the tournament.
Joining Laver on stage at the launch in New York, Federer said: “Rod Laver represents everything that’s great about the sport of tennis, and it’s a privilege to be able to honour his achievements through the Laver Cup.
“I know the player will be keen to complete at the highest level under Rod Laver’s name and enjoy the chance to team up and play alongside our fiercest competitors. Rafa and I have faced each other across the net countless times – it will be new and exciting to see what we can accomplish together.”
Nadal added: “When I was a kid my uncle told me all about the great Rod Laver, and I think the sport is bigger when the legends take part in it.
“It’s very special for me to be part of the first Laver Cup and on the same team as Roger, especially when we’ve been great rivals for our whole careers.”
[Quotes via Laver Cup Press Kit, Tennis Australia Media]
How does this all work?
Each team has six players, selected on a results based formula with the four highest ranked players sought, and the remaining two picked by the team captains, who also determine the singles order and the doubles pairings.
It will be played on a single hard court with four matches a day – three singles and one doubles, best of three sets with a tie-breaking doubles to decide any deadlock after 12 matches.
Each match win on the Friday is worth one point, two points on Saturday and three on the Sunday – highest score… wins!
Simply put, if it was determined at the time of lauch, the top four players in the rankings (Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer for Europe, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic for Rest of the World) would be the players sought and the captain can pick the next two.
Of course who would have known that of that band, no less than four would be calling time on their seasons! Players lower down the rankings are deemed to be next in line – and could move up the list if the top four were not available.
Because this is not affiliated to or endorsed by the ATP, there are no rankings – so it feels that the exho season is starting early. It makes for an awfully busy end of season before the Asian swing, where top players could well have to play the US Open, a Davis Cup semi-final or play-off and then the Laver Cup, in amongst the rest of the ATP season.
On the other hand, it fits in between the weeks of St. Petersburg and Metz, before the tour shifts to Asia with the ATP 250s in Chengdu and Shenzhen, so conceivably the very top players would be heading to Beijing and Tokyo for the start of October.
Much like the IPTL on its launch, the tournament has gone big, securing the interest of Federer and Nadal. There is no doubt that the Laver Cup is pulling out all the stops – the launch featured five legends of the game sporting 60 Slam singles titles between them. It starts with the heavyweight power of Federer and Nadal to ensure fans will flock in, and with the fact that the pair have sewn up all the Slams this year, the first Laver Cup ought to be a roaring success on paper.
As we have seen, no-one could have forseen the early season-endings for Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka and Nishikori but the field has some of the big names touted to be (heaven help them) ‘the future’ of tennis. True tennis fans will love it. But it will be interesting to see how it fares when the walking wounded return for the start of next season, and more importantly when it moves to the US ahead of the Asian swing.
More information on the Laver Cup is available on their website.
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