LAVER CUP TENNIS • TRADITION PARTNERED WITH INNOVATION = GREAT TENNIS AND LOTS OF FUN & ENTERTAINMENT

Written by: on 24th September 2017
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Laver Cup tennis tournament
LAVER CUP TENNIS • TRADITION PARTNERED WITH INNOVATION = GREAT TENNIS AND LOTS OF FUN & ENTERTAINMENT

epa06224917 Members of the Team Europe hold the trophy as they celebrate winning the Laver Cup tennis tournament in Prague, Czech Republic, 24 September 2017. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK  |

By Francisco Resendiz

 

Laver Cup gave us an all-star cast and some eye-popping plot twists.

 

The inaugural Laver Cup was high-energy tennis in an innovative package escalating into an inspiring climax.

 

And boy, it was a blast to watch.

 

Roger Federer fought off a match point denying the explosive Nick Kyrgios, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 11-9, clinching Team Europe’s spirited 15-9 victory over Team World at the O2 Arena in Prague.

 

Switzerland’s Roger Federer (down) and Spain’s Rafael Nadal of the Team Europe celebrate after winning the Laver Cup tennis tournament in Prague, Czech Republic, 24 September 2017. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

Rafael Nadal leaped into Federer’s arms as if celebrating a Slam, a drained and red-eyed Kyrgios was consoled by his entire squad, fans erupted in a sustained roar and the entire event, packed with some breathtaking rallies on an all-black court, was streamed free of charge over the Laver Cup Facebook page.

 

This was one of the best tennis parties we’ve seen in years and could be a game-changer for the sport.

 

There aren’t enough superlatives to express how incredible Laver Cup was.

 

From the first ball on the first day of the first-ever Laver Cup, both teams poured everything they had onto the chalkboard-colored court.

 

The unique staggered scoring system—each match win was worth one point on Friday, two points on Saturday, and three points on Sunday—created opportunity and escalating suspense.

 

The format—and the energy exuded by the players and capacity crowd at the O2 Arena—made this event special.

 

It created intensity from the first match to the last.

 

Battles of attrition, while admirable, can also be draining on our sport.

 

Players risk exhaustion and injury in best-of-five match play jammed into a three-day Davis Cup weekend, which is one reason why some stars skip Davis Cup, particularly as they get older. There’s only so much mileage you can wrack up on your joints after age 30 and still operate on the pro circuit.

 

The Laver Cup’s best-of-three set format not only allowed Roger and Rafa and Jack Sock and Kyrgios to play both singles and doubles—it empowered all competitors to come out firing and leave it all on the court.

 

In the shorter match format, players can’t rely on wearing the opposition out, so we saw each man get creative in finding solutions on court.

 

The old man on the young guns team—John Isner—made things interesting.

 

Isner and Sock launched Sunday’s final day of play defeating Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych.

 

Then Long John, winless in six prior meetings with Nadal, swept the world No. 1, cutting Team Europe’s lead to 12-9 and putting all the pressure on Federer and Kyrgios.

 

I’m still incredulous Federer found a day to pull out that final match. He was playing catch-up for much of the day and Kyrgios, who can be maddeningly apathetic, showed why he is such a tremendous talent and charismatic player when he’s fully engaged.

 

Federer threw every spin and angle conceivable fighting off a match point in the final tie break and finally creating cracks in Kyrgios’ game setting off a high-flying celebration with Nadal.

 

Laver Cup was tennis in full flight.

 

Let’s be clear, tradition is wonderful.

 

It’s a beautiful thing seeing Europe captain Bjorn Borg and World leader John McEnroe embracing like old college roomates at a reunion or hear the reverence all of the players expressed when speaking about Laver.

 

Think about the game-changers on the court.

 

Rod Laver helped create Open Era tennis in 1968, Borg and McEnroe’s rivalry while gloriously brief—they split 14 career matches—helped ignite the American tennis boon of the 1970s and 1980s and now Federer and Nadal, a gold standard rivalry, join forces as teammates to shake up the sometime staid approach of events.

 

Tradition is wonderful, but innovation inspires improvement.

 

Laver Cup—like the Rocket himself who could create heavy spin off both things—imparted a playful and passionate spin on some traditions, including that staggered scoring system, camera angles exposing the players’ vantage point, in-match interviews and bringing back legends to coach today’s stars.

 

Good ideas—like Grand Slam championships—are hard to come by, but Laver Cup showed us a way forward.

 

I haven’t felt this exhilarated watching three consecutive days of tennis in years. Something is happening here.

 

We can’t wait to see it hit Chicago next year.

 

The Laver Cup will take place at the United Center, one of the largest arenas in the USA with a capacity of 23,500, from September 21-23, 2018.

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