By Ros Satar
- Third edition of the ‘Ryder Cup of Tennis’ takes place once more in Europe
- Federer hopes for more longevity as the ATP adopts Laver Cup into its calendar
- Chasing pack of stars headline Day 1
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The glitzy glamorous Laver Cup enters its third year, back in Europe as Team Europe eye up a ‘three-peat’.
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Laver Cup sees off spectre of ill-fated IPTL
The latest exhibition on the block gets underway at the weekend, as the tour gradually picks up speed towards following the US Open. While the St Petersburg and Metz tournaments hit the quarter-final stages with US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev looking to go deep after an extraordinary summer, the rest of the best will be duking out in the black and grey Laver Cup courts.
Laver Cup is a joint initiative between Roger Federer’s sports management company TEAM8, the ubiquitous Tennis Australia, the UTSA and Swiss/Brazilian businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann. With the ATP co-opting this exho into its calendar it at least affords it a little more gravitas than IPTL had towards the end of its ambitious but ultimately flawed business structure. IPTL did actually make it to a third year but its marquee names (Federer and Serena Williams) pulled out due to financial issues after the league had started. It was never to return.
At the Laver Cup press conferences, Federer said: “Hopefully in history of the Laver Cup and in tennis for me, because I think in tennis or in your life you want to do things that or maybe for the first time things that are super memorable, and I know this Laver Cup weekend will be exactly that.
“I’m very proud to be playing in Switzerland and very proud to represent Team Europe here at the Laver Cup, and also having maybe played a little part in bringing it here to Geneva. This was never my really goal to be playing in Switzerland, but it just happened that the city really wanted it. We thought, why not? And here we are.”
But with arguably the best player that the game has seen in the modern era at its helm, how could it be set up to fail? Certainly while the Big Three are still willing to be involved, it will still be a success, but it will be down to the members of the chasing pack to make their mark – and Day 1 could well help pave the way.
Day 1 Session
Dominic Thiem (Team Europe) v Denis Shapovalov (Team World)
Since reaching his second Slam final at Roland Garros, Dominic Thiem’s grass court season came and went in a first round exit at Wimbledon, until he returned to the comfort of that strange clay court season before the US Open series. Not that his quarter-final run in Montreal helped him much – he bombed out of the US Open in the first round.
That being said, much of the promise shown by Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in his breakout years has failed to materialise – he has been steady enough but only two semi-finals (Miami and Winston-Salem) but is still trying to find his way.
Thiem ought to be able to pick up the win and set Team Europe on their way, having beaten him twice in their encounters.
Fabio Fognini (Team Europe) v Jack Sock (Team World)
Match two features the unpredictable Fabio Fognini against a Team World stalwart Jack Sock. However, the American’s form has fallen off a cliff and even the most languid and lethargic Fognini ought to have more than enough to handle the American, who now outside the Top 200 (having made his debut at the ATP Finals just two years ago).
Fognini can turn it on like a spotlight when he feels like it, while Sock seems to be just floundering at the moment, and although he has poured disdain on the idea of looking at doubles – where he undoubtedly has a talent, winning Wimbledon, the US Open and the ATP Finals with Mike Bryan, while Bob was recovering from hip surgery.
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Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) v Taylor Fritz (Team World)
The night session sees Stefanos Tsitsipas make his debut for Team Europe as he takes on Taylor Fritz – a replacement for the injured Kevin Anderson. Fritz finally claimed his first ATP title in Eastbourne, and Tsitsipas might have started the year with a lot of promise, but after a real heartbreaker of a match against Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round of Roland Garros, he had two very disappointing first round losses at Wimbledon and the US Open.
However, the Greek comes into the Laver Cup off the back of winning ways in the Davis Cup, and hopefully has some of his confidence back. Taylor Fritz started the US hard court summer well enough with two finals before bombing out in the first round of Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open.
Roger Federer/Alexander Zverev (Team Europe) v Denis Shapovalov/Jack Sock
With Federer set to take the court with Alexander Zverev. It has been a miserable year for the reigning ATP Finals champion who is languishing in 10th place in the ATP Race to London.
Zverev’s penchant to stay at the back of the court and push the ball constantly into play while Federer dashes around the court will be intriguing to watch, and just maybe Sock and Shapovalov can pull off a bit of a surprise as the Canadian has been putting in a fair bit of time on the doubles court this year.
Play starts at 1pm (12pm BST).
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