In honour of one of the greatest players ever in the world of tennis, the inaugural Laver Cup will be held at Prague between Europe and rest of the world.
Legend Bjorn Borg will be the captain of Europe while John Mcenroe will be captain of rest of the world. Thomas Enqvist will be Borg’s vice-captain while Patrick Mcenroe will be his brothers deputy. Patrick of course has his own identity as the longest serving Davis cup captain in US Davis Cup history. Enqvist who had risen to world no.4 says he took up playing tennis as Borg was his idol.
Team Europe will consist of Nadal, Federer, Zverev, Thiem, Cilic and Berdych. Team Rest of the world will have DelPotro, Jack Sock, John Isner, Sam Querrey, youngster Denis Shapovalov and the incredibly talented but mercurial Nick Kyrgios.
The Europe team will have Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal playing together and Roger Federer has said he is excited about both playing with Nadal and being captained by Borg.
Lets quote Federer on Borg, as reported in Tennis World USA.
“For me to spend time with Bjorn, it’s quite rare. He doesn’t spend so much time on the tour. When he shows up, it’s short. I feel every minute you get with him is a privilege. Here we are, he’s going to be stuck with us. So it’s going, I think, to be very special for all of us, particularly me. I mean, I have incredible respect for him. I feel like if I could play one player ever going back, I feel like it would be Bjorn. I feel he’s that incredibly good, for what he did for the game. If I look how he played, what he brought to it, it’s crazy.”
Federer is excited about playing with Rafa instead of against him. The King says,
“Rafa’s been such a wonderful champion and a good friend of mine on the tour, one of my big rivals for life, that it’s just nice to be able to spend some time with him and support him. If I can help him, great. If he can help me, even better. Finally, after all these years, I get a chance to actually support his forehand, his aggressive play, his everything, his fighting spirit. Everything before was always like, ahh, another forehand and another fighter.”
The 3 day exhibition tournament will have 4 matches every day including a doubles match as well. Each match will be a best of 3 sets. However if a match goes to the 3rd set, it will be a tiebreaker of ten instead of a full set.
Though its an exhibition tournament the rules are quite fair and transparent. As regards selection, 4 of the 6 players are automatic selections as per ATP rankings while 2 are picked by the legendary captains. Borg and Mcenroe will be captain for 3 years each and then we will have new captains. The tournament will be played alternatively between Europe and USA as hosts and will be an annual affair except on Olympic years when it will not be played.
The winner will be decided by an interesting scoring system. Day 1 matches have 1 point each, while Day 2 has 2 points and day 3 matches have 3 points each. The 1st team to reach 13 points will win the Laver Cup. If both teams are level at 12 each a final 5th match will be played on the 3rd day. Each of the 6 will have to play at least one singles match on all the three days and no one can play more than 2 singles match in total. At least 4 of the 6 will have to play at least 1 doubles match. A doubles team cannot be repeated.
The interesting rules and scoring pattern will surely see the tactical acumen of both captains being stretched. With the quality of both teams one can surely expect a terrific tournament. Looking forward to it. My prediction is that with both Rafa and Fed in the same team , Team Europe will emerge the victors.
Looking forward to a great inaugural laver Cup 2017.
This Blog has been published by Leading Odia daily “Pragativadi” and Leading Australian sports community “The Roar”