Laver Cup: Team Europe wins fourth consecutive title

BOSTON – After three editions on the wire, the Laver Cup finally lacked drama. It does happen, and given the long-standing dominance of...

BOSTON – After three editions on the wire, the Laver Cup finally lacked drama.

It does happen, and given the long-standing dominance of European players over men’s tennis, it’s frankly more surprising that the first three Laver Cups were suspense magnets that this year’s edition was a disappointing blowout.

Even without the stars who make up the three greats of men’s tennis – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – Team Europe only had the top 10 players on their six-man squad in Boston. His opponent, Team World, had none, and it showed in the final score, 14-1, which was by far the most lopsided in the brief history of the event.

Despite all the careful planning and big investments in this team competition, the bottom line is that Team Europe and Bjorn Borg, its captain, have won every Laver Cup. They have excellent chances of remaining unbeaten in London next year and beyond given the youth and talent of rising stars like 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, fellow Russian Andrey Rublev, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and German Alexander Zverev.

This competitive imbalance is potentially a big problem for the Laver Cup, the international team event created by Federer and his management company Team8 in 2017.

“I think a Team World victory would be good for everyone,” said John McEnroe, Team World captain. “I think the event needs it. I wondered why Russia was part of Europe. I don’t think it is, but it’s just me.

McEnroe can’t be faulted for thinking creatively, even desperately, at this point. Unfortunately for McEnroe, much of Russia is indeed in continental Europe, and the country traditionally participates in European sports competitions. Even though eastern Russia is in Asia, Medvedev and the Russians will still be part of the Europe squad, according to Tony Godsick, Laver Cup general manager.

“We won’t make the change,” Godsick said Sunday night. “We’re not going to adjust this thing. It will be cyclical. I promise you the world team will win at some point.

The Laver Cup, with its three-day format and blue and red color scheme for team uniforms, was modeled after golf’s venerable and successful Ryder Cup, and certainly took the modeling too far this time around. playing in the same country on the same weekend. .

This was not to the advantage of the downstairs tennis competition, although the crowd and the atmosphere were great in Boston. A search for “Cup” on Google News on Sunday night produced a top 10 which was all of the Whistling Straits Ryder Cup results.

Godsick said the overlap in schedules was unintentional. Both events have been postponed to 2020, and he said the Laver Cup has a designated week on the tennis calendar that cannot be changed.

The Ryder Cup, first contested in 1927 in Worcester, Massachusetts, has had to evolve into a major event and commercial heavyweight. Originally a competition between the United States and Great Britain, it only became a runaway success after players from other European countries joined the British squad in 1979.

But while the Russians are still part of the European squad in the Laver Cup, there isn’t much else to do in the geography department. Team World is already open to all non-European nations and this year included players from Argentina (Diego Schwartzman), Australia (Nick Kyrgios), Canada (Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime) and the United States ( Reilly Opelka and John Isner).

So far, McEnroe is 0-4 as captain, and his Laver Cup rivalry with old friend Borg has not been as balanced as their rivalry when they played the classic Grand Slam finals. In the 1980’s.

“Normally, I like you,” gray-haired McEnroe told the gray-haired Borg on Sunday during the awards ceremony at TD Garden. “I hate your guts right now.”

McEnroe was only half kidding. With his arms folded in his chair, he looked like a man suffering from indigestion for much of that long weekend.

Technically, the Laver Cup is an exhibition. It does not offer any ranking points even if it is a sanctioned ATP Tour event.

But captains and players never treated it as an exhibition, and Team World’s failure to compete in Boston was certainly not related to a lack of attention. Their expressions were often anguished and their body language often strained as they lost critical point after critical point, usually in decisive matches that replaced third sets.

“This is not an exhibition,” Opelka said. “If it was an exhibition it wouldn’t have been 14-1. I can guarantee you that.

Opelka, a towering, bearded 6-foot-11 player who lost both of his games on his Laver Cup debut, confessed he was skeptical until he experienced the event himself this year. .

“It sounded too good to be true,” he said of the tight arrivals in 2017, 2018 and 2019. “And then I got here, and the way Johnny Mac started talking about it. changed everything. He’s a true legend. It was invaluable to be able to spend time with him.

The Laver Cup’s ability to bring together the tennis stars of yesterday and today for enriching exchanges is one of its strengths. Its format too, in which wins are worth one point on the first day, two points on the second and three points on the third. This was meant to avoid a meaningless last day. But with four games scheduled for Sunday, Europe took victory after just one, with Zverev and Rublev beating Opelka and Shapovalov, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 10-3. It was yet another close game that went in the direction of Europe. It was also potentially edgy.

After Zverev lost in doubles on Friday night to Matteo Berrettini, McEnroe said Zverev told him it would be the last game Team World was going to win. McEnroe later admitted that Zverev was teasing, but McEnroe said he was hungry for “display material.”

After McEnroe informed his team of the comment on Friday, the response was predictable and belligerent, and Opelka replied, “He also said he was innocent.” It was an apparent reference to the publication domestic violence allegations of Zverev’s former girlfriend, Olya Sharypova.

Sharypova did not file criminal charges against Zverev for the incidents, which she told the post Slate happened in 2019. Zverev has repeatedly denied abusing Sharypova and continued to play on the ATP Tour, winning Olympic gold in singles in Tokyo and reaching the semi-finals of the US Open earlier this month ahead of participate in the Laver Cup.

On Sunday evening, Laver Cup organizers announced ahead of Team World’s last press conference that the team would only answer “tennis-related questions”. In a separate interview, Opelka then declined to talk about Zverev.

The ATP Tour announced earlier this year that it would reconsider its approach to dealing with players accused of domestic violence or sexual misconduct. He currently has no formal policy.

Zverev was found to be correct, however, that Friday’s doubles victory would be Team World’s last victory in Boston. His victory on Sunday with the hard-hitting Rublev marked the third consecutive time that Zverev has won the decisive point in the Laver Cup.

He looked a lot like Team Europe’s new leader in Boston on the pitch and in post-match interviews. Although Federer made the trip to Boston, he only made it as a spectator and cheerleader, navigating the TD Garden on crutches after knee surgery in August.

At 40, it’s unclear when or if he will return to the tour, but what is clear is that this European team was still unstoppable without him or the other Big Three members: Nadal and Djokovic.

Moving the Laver Cup forward without this superstar power will be a much bigger challenge.

“I’m definitely not worried about the future of the event,” Godsick said. “Tennis always produces new superstars. He always has, and always will be. New people are holding up Grand Slam trophies. You see it coming now. On the contrary, I think we were lucky to be able to launch it in the age of such amazing tennis players. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Laver Cup: Team Europe wins fourth consecutive title
Laver Cup: Team Europe wins fourth consecutive title
Newsrust - US Top News
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