John McEnroe believes the ATP tour was wrong not to embrace the Laver Cup — a new tournament which he believes is here to stay.
Taking part as the captain of Team World — which lost 9-15 to Europe in Prague on Sunday — McEnroe raved about the inaugural edition of the event.
“It’s been awesome to be out there. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t wait to do this again. I mean, you feel like you want to do it again sooner than a year from now,” said the seven-time Grand Slam champion.
The O2 Arena in Prague hosted a sellout crowd for every session of the three-day event with a total of 83,273 fans coming through the doors over the weekend.
The competition came down to the wire in the final day of action as Roger Federer came through a tight affair with Nick Kyrgios to secure the win over the Europeans.
“I don’t think any of us realised it would be this good,” confessed McEnroe, of an event conceived by Federer and his management company Team8.
“The key (to it sticking around) is that I think the top players are going to buy into it. And I think that anyone that watched this, I can’t imagine that they can’t think this is like a total win-win for tennis. You’ve got to be an idiot if you don’t think this is something that’s going to be great for tennis.
“I can’t imagine there’s a player that played or didn’t play for that matter that watched that didn’t think this is something that we should be supporting.”
The USTA and Tennis Australia have backed the Laver Cup, but the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the ATP are reportedly not pleased with the event and its timing.
Tournament directors of ATP events coinciding with the Laver Cup this past week — 250s in Metz and St. Petersburg — can understandably be irked by the newly-introduced team competition, that has taken away 14 world-class players from the tour to go play in Prague.
But McEnroe believes the ATP should have been on board with Laver Cup from the start
“I think that the ATP made a mistake not realising that this thing was going to be a big thing in the beginning,” said the American.
“I tried to tell them that from the beginning and they’re trying to come up with some event on their own (World Team Cup), I’m not exactly even sure what it is, but the important thing is that you take a step back and realise ‘look, this is something that’s important and could be really good for tennis’.
“I don’t know how much you know about baseball but you know Babe Ruth was this legendary figure, that’s what Rod Laver is for tennis, so to me, you got his name associated with it, and Roger Federer backed it up, that’s a really strong start and then the way it panned out… at the end I just found myself going like this (waving his arms up to rally the crowd), it was amazing, I wish I was playing.”
Between the animated crowd, the level of competition, and the Team World elaborate celebrations taking place on the sidelines, the atmosphere was perhaps one of the most surprising elements of the event, considering it is just in its first year and had been met with lots of scepticism before it even started.
“I’ve been around a lot of things, a lot of incredible Davis Cup scenarios, it’s hard to feel like you could top this,” concluded McEnroe.