The announcement of a Ryder Cup-style event for tennis has received a mixed reaction after a number of attempts to bring new formats onto the scene in recent years
The Laver Cup, as it will be known, will see a European side take on the Rest of the World in a team event already slated for a minimum of two editions.
In today’s #360debate, we ask: Is the Laver Cup a good idea?
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are still the game’s most popular stars and the Laver Cup is an excellent concept.
Injury, diminishing powers and early major losses may have affected both players in recent years – the US Open a case in point – but it doesn’t matter. Fans will still flock to Prague and millions will watch on TV and online.
The event is billed as a Ryder Cup-style format but in truth it has an exhibition feel – a format which tennis fans love.
It’s hard to put a timeframe on how much longer Federer or Nadal will play on for and that’s why so many people cherish the chance to see them – even if they are on the same side of the net for Team Europe.
Lovers of the game more often than not love their legends and rivalries from yesteryear over what’s happening in the modern era.
The idea of John McEnroe shouting the odds against the Swiss and Spaniard from the touchline is great. Who cares if the matches aren’t all serious? Let’s enjoy the spectacle.
Laver Cup:— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) September 9, 2016
- 6 players in each team
- 4 qualify on ranking after Wimbledon
- 2 captain's picks
- 12 matches (9 singles, 3 dubs) over 3 days
And the fact this tournament adds to an already over-subscribed calendar is neither here nor there.
Take Novak Djokovic. Despite being a terrific champion, his achievements have never received the same adulation as Federer or Nadal but the world No1 hinted he wants to be involved. It proves the lure for top players of playing alongside and under legendary captains far outweighs the hassle of a few extra first-class flights.
Federer’s management company is the main driving force behind the Laver Cup and he, along with Nadal, may feel their pulling power and credibility is such they can host this event on their own terms, unlike the IPTL.
It’s also nice to properly acknowledge Laver’s achievements, a man who would have won more than 11 major titles had he not been banned by the grand slams for five years prior to the Open Era.
And with the US Tennis Association already giving its blessing to host the second edition in 2018, I think it will grow and is here to stay.
Those exhibitions just keep popping up, on the calendar don’t they?
And then they refuse to promote themselves as exhibitions, meaning the organisers are asking us to take those tennis events seriously, which then prompts us to evaluate them accordingly.
This three-day Ryder Cup-like event will pit a team representing Europe against a team representing the ‘Rest of the World’. It is backed by Tennis Australia and the USTA, and created by Team8, the agency founded by Roger Federer and his longtime agent Tony Godsick.
Federer and Nadal are committed to playing next year with John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg acting as team captains. With huge names and organisations involved, you’d imagine this event will be a success, but I’m not crazy about the idea.
While it is clear from other exhibitions like the IPTL that players and fans are enjoying the concept of seeing their favourite players compete together as team-mates, the Laver Cup’s idea of pitting Europe against the Rest of the World has a very antiquated sting to it.
The Ryder Cup, after which this is modelled, was created in the 1920s. In today’s world of globalisation, why is tennis making this arbitrary divide? Another important question is: Why is this event discarding women?
The timing of the event comes two weeks after the US Open and one week after Davis Cup which might force some players to choose between contesting it and playing for their country. In a packed calendar that is a continuous topic of debate amongst players, another money-making scheme has appeared.
If Federer and Nadal are so excited about being team-mates, why don’t they just play doubles together at any ATP event during the year?
Tennis is too traditional and it is quite resistant to new ideas, and while I welcome change in the sport, why not introduce these changes to the actual tours rather than resort to exhibitions?
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