Roger Federer's deep passion for the Laver Cup

Roger Federer has always been a student of tennis. While still a teenager more than 20 years ago, Federer was interested in who were th...


Roger Federer has always been a student of tennis. While still a teenager more than 20 years ago, Federer was interested in who were the great historical figures in the sport, what they won and how they styled their shots.

Federer clung to Rod Wash of Australia, who is the only tennis player to have won the Grand Slam – Wimbledon and the championships of Australia, France and the United States – twice, in 1962 and 1969. Federer’s game is reminiscent of that of Wash with graceful groundstrokes followed by explosive but perfectly timed forays into the net.

It is with a nod to Laver that in 2017 Federer helped to create the Laver Cup, an exhibition team competition featuring six top male players from Europe against six from the rest of the world. The event took place in Prague, Chicago and Geneva. After a year of interruption due to the pandemic, it will be held from Friday to Sunday at TD Garden in Boston.

“In our sport, we don’t have enough platform for the former great players, the legends of the game,” Federer said by phone from his home in Switzerland, where he is recovering from surgery on his right knee which forced him to miss the US Open. “If you watch golf, they have a wonderful way to go about it. The old players are always there, always welcome and always advising the younger ones. Hosting an event like the Laver Cup is a way to shine the spotlight on legends like Rod Laver and many others who have paved the way for us.

Federer, along with his longtime agent Tony Godsick, has done his part to connect some of the game’s best, past and present, through the Laver Cup. Its two captains are Bjorn Borg, winner of five consecutive Wimbledon titles and six Roland Garros titles, and John McEnroe, who has won the US Open four times and three Wimbledon championships. The vice-captains are McEnroe’s younger brother Patrick, a 1991 Australian Open semifinalist, and Swedish compatriot Borg and former world number 4. Thomas Enqvist.

Borg’s European squad has six players ranked in the top 10. This is No.2 Daniil Medvedev, who won the US Open this month by beating Novak Djokovic; n ° 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas; No. 4 Alexander Zverev; n ° 5 Andrei Rublev; n ° 7 Matteo Berrettini; and # 10 Casper Ruud.

McEnroe’s World Team has No.11 Felix Auger-Aliassime, No.12 Denis Shapovalov, No.15 Diego Schwartzman, No.19 Reilly Opelka, No.22 John Isner and No.95 Nick Kyrgios . All take turns in 12 singles and doubles matches during the day and evening throughout the weekend.

Opelka playing the Laver Cup for the first time. He has wanted to play for a long time.

“The Laver Cup is the Laver Cup,” said Opelka, who reached the round of 16 at the US Open. “They capitalized everything. They built the dream event. Who wouldn’t want to be there? Everything Rod Laver has his name on, Federer has his name on, it’s a huge honor.

If it appears on paper that Team Europe, with the top ranked competitors, has an advantage, the event format is a great equalizer. There are singles and doubles matches, and the point total is cumulative with one point awarded for each win on day one, two points on the second, and three points on the third. Players on the winning team, first at 13 points, each receive $ 250,000 in addition to the appearance fee based on a player’s rating.

In 2017, Federer beat Kyrgios 11-9 in a decisive match to seal Team Europe’s victory. Then two years ago, the European team won for the third year in a row when the world team led before the last two matches, but Federer then beat Isner 6-4, 7-6 (3) and Zverev eliminated. Milos Raonic in the final. match 6-4, 3-6, 10-4. At Laver Cup, a super tiebreaker is played in place of a third set.

This year, Federer is unable to play. Also absent are Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, both injured. Djokovic, who represented Europe in 2018, declined to participate.

“Obviously we miss the top three guys, but our squad is one of the strongest we’ve ever had,” said Zverev, who, along with Isner and Kyrgios, has competed in the Laver Cup four times. “We all have the younger gun generation guys, which is great to see. Everyone is very motivated. It will be a fun and entertaining week for all of us.

From a business standpoint, it’s hard to argue with the fact that so many top players go head-to-head in multiple matches over three days.

“We knew from the start that this event would be a success,” said Godsick. “The secret sauce is the format. It just works because so many matches boil down to the wire, or what we call the Laver Breaker. This makes it more interesting for gamers. There is more peer pressure when you are playing against your biggest rivals while your other rivals are cheering you on. “

Federer was intrinsically involved in Wash Cup since its creation. He worried in Prague the first year when he wasn’t sure fans would show up for the first game at 11 a.m. (the arena ended up being packed). He worried when Nadal got injured and retired on the last day in Geneva in 2019, then had to deal with an angry John McEnroe, who wanted to make his own last-minute player replacements. But he mostly enjoyed himself when he played doubles with Nadal for the only time in his career.

“Of course the double with Rafa was really special because there was so much hype leading up to it, ”Federer said of the match in Prague in 2017. They beat Americans Jack Sock and Sam Querrey 6-4, 1-6, 10-5.

For Federer, the real draw of the Laver Cup is the camaraderie between the players, who usually look at each other through the net rather than sitting side by side on comfortable benches. Even if his playing days come to an end, Federer is sure he will continue to support the event.

“I really see myself being involved,” he said. “I would love to be a captain someday. I think it’s a great way to have the rivals live together for a week together. It’s really fun and cool to share the locker room with those guys you usually share it with, but don’t talk about tactics and see how everyone is actually preparing and supporting each other. Normally, you don’t encourage each other against each other, but you don’t really mind whether they win or lose. This time it’s very different.

And as for the presence of former champions of the game, including Laver, 83, every year, that’s what Federer wants.

“This event is a meeting,” said Federer. “This is what I wanted him to be. It is wisdom, stories, legends tell stories to the younger generation. Happy to be on these teams, to listen to Bjorn, to see John, to see Rocket [Laver] and watch young people learn from elders. It is to impart wisdom.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Roger Federer's deep passion for the Laver Cup
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