It is said that the world of tennis enthusiasts is generally divided into two: those who swear by the grace of Roger Federer and those who drool at Rafael Nadal's raw power. Or at least that was the case until Novak Djokovic's phenomenal rise. But what if the two legends were brought together, on the same side of the net, to take on the world?
Dreams do come true and as was announced last night, the first Laver Cup (named after former world number one Rod Laver) is scheduled for September 22-24, 2017, and will be held in Prague, Czech Republic. The Cup, drawing inspiration from golf's Ryder Cup, will pit an outfit of Europe's best tennis players against a squad from the rest of the world (ROW).
A star-studded lineup of Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, Nadal and Federer addressed a press conference in New York, to divulge details of the competition. It was also announced that old-time rivals Borg and McEnroe will captain the Europe and ROW teams, respectively, for the first three years of the tournament.
The event will be held annually, two weeks after the US Open. The sides will field six men; the top four from the post-Wimbledon ATP rankings and two other players, who the captains will select after the year's US Open. Over the three days, there will be 12 matches―nine singles and three doubles―in a best-of-three-sets format and points will be awarded for victories.
Though the competition looks to be heavily one-sided―13 of the current top 15 are European―McEnroe insisted that “a lot can happen in just over a year”. Both Nadal and Federer are relishing the opportunity of playing alongside each other and with 31 grand slams between the two, it is bound to be a treat for the fans. Nadal expressed his delight on getting to team up with Federer. "We have been rivals for all of our careers, so to be on the same team, and even play some doubles together, will be something very special and I'm very excited about it," he said at the conference.
Federer, too, seemed pumped about the opportunity. “I think it’s going to absolutely unbelievable to be on the same side of the net as Rafa, finally!”
Though the idea was proposed in January, it took a while for the organisers to gather the legends and formally announce the event. But it remains to be seen if a women equivalent of the crowd-puller is on the cards. In 2002, the Collins Cup, a charity event, had featured the best of the then women stars in Europe vs United States, which was won by the latter. But as things stand, it will be an all-men tournament.
With this dream team ticked off the list, anyone up for a Messi-Ronaldo team up?