Wow! What an inaugural Laver Cup. It didn’t disappoint, especially since I was pretty sure our Team World would only win the doubles matches. I could go on an on about the rules, the order of play, and the scoring, but I’m going to give a fan perspective today.
When I saw the Team Europe roster (Nadal, Federer, Chilic, Thiem, Zverev, and Berdych) and the Team World roster (Sock, Kyrgios, Inser, Querrey, Shapovalov, and Tiafoe) I was sure Europe would take every singles match. I was going to watch this for the great tennis Europe would produce, the fascination around the brand new event, and the teaming of Federal and Nadal for the first time ever (or as it was called Fedal). And Friday went as expected, Cilic, Thiem, and Zverev taking singles and Kyrgios/Sock taking doubles. Not overly emotional and left the same expectations for Saturday.
Saturday started out with a typical Federer win over Querrey. But then Sock showed some signs of World Team life…He took the second set off of Nadal! It went to a third set tie break. Sock was down, Sock was up, Sock could win this! Team Captain John McEnroe barked at him to Finish This Off! (Of course he had an expletive in there that I’m just going to leave out). Sock did give in to the Nadal fight eventually, but the Team World bench was now ALIVE. And what do you get when you put a bunch of 20 year old, competitive, hyper men together – something short of Animal House.
I was loving all the energy on Team World’s bench. And here I have to add in the Team World’s alternate Kokkinakis and assistant captain John McEnroe’s younger brother Patrick. Patrick looked like he was 25 again. With every great shot the bench imitated every sports metaphor, they even used Shapovalov as a human basketball net. They were up on their feet, falling down, jumping on each other, rushing the court, they were all over the place.
Unfortunately I couldn’t see the next match. It was the home town hero Team Europe’s Berdych taking on Team World’s explosive Kyrgios. Kyrgios got the win. And all of a sudden we had a tournament.
Fedal was next. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the same team for the first time ever. The tennis world came to a stop for a few minutes as the two greatest ever teamed up to play. At one point, in the same Nike blue shirt and white shorts, when the camera pulled back as they waited to receive, I turned to my husband and said “They’re beginning to look alike”. But then when they started to hit, you could easily tell who was who with their signature styles. That and one is lefty – that kinda gave it away easy. Such two intense players were too much for Team World. And we play another day.
Much to my amazement Team World tied it up over the next three matches. It was all down to Federer vs Kyrgios. I wasn’t near a tv, so I was watching as I could on my phone. And then after a gut wrenching loss by one point in a tie break for Kyrgios, Federer took the very first Laver Cup. Fed did his signature jump and scream on the verge of tears. Rafa came running up and jumped into Feds arms. (All I could think is Raf, don’t take out Rogers back.) What a sight to see the two biggest competitors always on the opposite sides (see my pic above) teaming up to take this competition. Champagne was sprayed everywhere.
What a fantastic effort by all, exciting to watch, and a successful first Laver Cup.
See you next year in Chicago!