The third edition of the Laver Cup takes place at Geneva's Palexpo in just under a week, and it's the first time the event is officially part of the ATP Calendar albeit with no ranking points at stake.
The 2019 tournament sees the return of Rafael Nadal to the fold and no doubt the Fedal doubles combination which delighted fans in Prague two years ago.
The players are set to arrive on Wednesday at noon with a meet and greet at the Palais Eynard. But what can we expect once play kicks off on Friday? The first thing to look at are the lineups.
The 2019 Laver Cup Teams
|Team Europe||Team World|
|Rafael Nadal||John Isner|
|Roger Federer||Milos Raonic|
|Dominic Thiem||Nick Kyrgios|
|Alexander Zverev||Denis Shapovalov|
|Stefanos Tsitsipas||Jack Sock|
|Fabio Fogini||Taylor Fritz|
|Roberto Bautista Agut (Alternate)||Jordan Thompson (Alternate)|
|Captain: Bjorn Borg||Captain: John McEnroe|
|Vice Captain: Thomas Enqvist||Vice Captain: Patrick McEnroe|
Quick Laver Cup 2019 Preview
Team Europe has won both Laver Cups to date, and on paper, the boys in blue are streets ahead of the Team World in terms of rankings and achievements.
You can even make the argument that Europe's alternate in Bautista Agut is equal too or stronger than anyone in the Team World lineup 😆 but will it be easy pickings for Fed and co?
One thing we've learned from the previous two iterations is the cumulative scoring system means that even if the first couple of days are one-sided, a couple of good performances on Sunday can take the tournament to the wire.
Aside from having two massive servers that can take the racquet out of your hands, the other leveller for Team World is that Europe's two biggest names aren't exactly coming in fresh. You have Federer who will have practised very little after picking up a back/neck injury at the US Open, and Nadal who will be tired after his five-set US Open victory where apparently he was in bits the day after.
Given that I think Thiem and Tsitsipas are the two most important guys for Team Europe and seen as though they both played Davis Cup this weekend they should be more tuned up than the rest. I reckon we might even see Bautista Agut get a run out this year as the alternate, but we shall see.
Personally, I think Team World need to win it this year to get more of a rivalry going but either way I'm looking forward to the event and will try to watch as much as I can.
Can Federer coach Zverev to move further up to the baseline? Will it be more serious now H2H is at stake? Will Fedal make a reappearance or is Fognini the doubles man? There'll be plenty of talking points I'm sure, and it should be another good weekend 🙂
Laver Cup 2019 Schedule
|Friday 20th September||13:00||Match 1 (singles) + Match 2 (singles)|
|Friday 20th September||19:00||Match 3 (singles) + Match 4 (doubles)|
|Saturday 21st September||13:00||Match 5 (singles) + Match 6 (singles)|
|Saturday 21st September||19:00||Match 7 (singles) + Match 8 (doubles)|
|Sunday 22nd September||12:00||Match 9 (doubles) + Match 10, 11 and 12 (singles) + Decider (doubles) if required|
Laver Cup Format
All matches at the Laver Cup are best of three sets with the deciding set being a 10 point tie break. Each player in the tournament plays at least one singles match during the first two days. No player can play singles more than twice during the three days. At least four of the six players must play doubles and no doubles combination is played more than once unless it's the deciding 12-12 match on Sunday.
As I mentioned above the scoring system is cumulative, so each match played at the event on Friday is worth one point, two points on Saturday, and three points on Sunday. The first team to reach 13 points wins the Laver Cup.
If there's a tie at 12:12, a doubles match is played by the teams which acts as the decider.
Federer Will Use Blue Limited Edition Wilson Pro Staff RF97
The final bit of news is that Roger will use a blue limited edition Pro Staff 97. Last year he used a red frame in Chicago, so this looks like it will be a new Laver Cup trend.
Is the colour switch a good idea? It certainly is for Wilson's sales figures, but given how the Tuxedo frame caused him problems due to it playing differently (his own words) and was promptly binned, you'd guess this frame will play differently too. He seemed to handle the switch to red last year with no problem though, so we'll see if this blue frame is used for the entire weekend.
Pre Laver Cup Interview with Federer
This weekend the 3rd Laver Cup takes place in Geneva. Here on Monday Roger Federer talks about his project, his health, the plans for the next year, his rival Rafael Nadal, who becomes a team member and meetings at the hotel bar.
It is the week before the Laver Cup, the trial of strength between Team Europe and Team World. Everywhere in Geneva flags are flying, also the busses promote the third edition of the event which takes place on the Palexpo ground. It is the collaborative work of Roger Federer and his manager Tony Godsick. On Monday the 20 times GS winner welcomes a chosen group of Swiss journalists in the best-located hotel and with view on the Lac Léman and talks about the time after the US Open, his health, the plans for the next year, discussions with Gerard Pique and meetings at the hotel bar.
Roger Federer, the last tournament was overshadowed by problems with the back. How are you meanwhile?
I was surprised how long I felt it, nearly 10, 12 days. I thought I would only feel it 2 or 3 days. That‘s probably just the age (laughs). Of course, I didn‘t take the same actions I would have done when I would have gone further at the US Open. Suddenly I had a lot of time. I flew back home and let it heal. I still feel it, but just a very little bit. It is only a question of time and nothing which should worry me any longer. I feel ready to play as much at the Laver Cup as needed.
Rafael Nadal won his 19th Grand Slam title at the US Open and is dangerously close to your record of 20 titles. Are you afraid of your record? How do you see his achievement?
It is an incredible achievement of him to win 2 Grand Slams this year. He didn‘t have it easy in the last years with his injuries on hard court. He had to change something and that turned out. For a short moment, it didn‘t look so good in Monaco but he could break free and has dominated since. I am never surprised by him as I know what he is capable of. Regarding the record? I was extremely happy when I could equalise and break the record back then. Nobody can take this away from me. When Nadal and Djokovic will overtake me once it‘s just like that. Nobody can take away my moments, my personal records. Maybe some of them will stay forever.
As similar as we are, as different, are our records. I am happy for everyone who can bring out the best of himself. When it is like that it isn‘t a problem. Of course, I could say: “I want everything for myself”, but that‘s not realistic. There is always a record to break. For me personally it is a deep satisfaction to play for a long time at age. I try to continue to win and also to keep playing for the title at the Grand Slams. We will see who will make it in the end. What has to be said is: It is just a fantastic time for tennis when you see these 3 players who have achieved so much.
Are there any tensions between you and Nadal in this race for records?
I think everyone notices how well Rafa and I get along and even are happy for each other. Of course, I would like to keep a record forever but at the same time it is an important aim to equalise a record or even break it – and that‘s what I managed to do with Sampras back then. Everything else was a bonus. I try to play my best career, the same tries Rafa. We all – the same goes for Djokovic – want to stay fit and healthy. That would be the best for tennis. We have to take the Grand Slam victories as long as we can as the young players are coming up. The respect between Nadal and me is actually enormous.
You said in New York you would make a timely decision about possible participation at the Olympics in Tokio. Are you going to be there?
I have decided internally what I want to play until and with Wimbledon. Now I concentrate on the question if I am going to play in Tokio. I have already talked about this with my team and asked how they see it. They said: “Hey, it‘s your decision, it‘s your Olympic Games, you will be the one who is playing.” I have also talked about it with Mirka if and how it would be possible. I surely will make a decision in the next weeks.
Is there a surprise in your tournament planning?
What can I say? I have to think about when I can make something public. But is this really necessary? For me, it is just important that I have the flow of the tournaments and the breaks, that I have enough time for the family. There is also the question of how much practice I need. I‘m not that flexible. I have to consider when I announce something. Will there be a surprise? I don‘t know. I have to go through everything again but for sure I want to make an early decision.
Does this mean that you know if you are going to play on clay or not?
I have decided for myself (laughs).
At the end of the year, you will travel for exhibitions to South America. Do you know how the program will look like?
The planning isn‘t fully over yet. I have already done this once before. That was the favourite ever tour of my father, he found it absolutely gigantic, just like me. For me especially the crowd was incredible. I have never experienced anything like that. That‘s why I always wanted to do it again. But I don‘t have the time for it every year – I have a family and have to look that the stress doesn‘t become too much. I said I can only do it when I can get 2 weeks holidays. Then I talked with Pierre Paganini if it would work out.
In the beginning of the year, you are playing in the newly created ATP Cup together with Henri Laaksonen but without Stan Wawrinka. Why?
As far as I know, Stan can‘t play there anymore as he didn‘t enter, which is, of course, a pity. I‘m not so sure if he can still enter later on. I plan though that Stan won‘t be there, alas.
Which challenges in the preparation do you see for yourself when you play exhibitions in South America at the end of November and the ATP Cup at the beginning of January?
The preparation is only one week shorter. Normally I started on December 4th, now it will be on December 11th. That is already arranged. I won‘t make any compromises. I don‘t have to be ready for 100% for the ATP Cup. My aim is the Australian Open, that‘s where my planning will be headed to.
Gerard Pique recently said that he wants to get you to play the Davis Cup next year. Are you playing with the thought of this?
Look, it‘s normal that he has to say this and that the topic is brought up again when the Davis Cup is being played. It‘s also normal that he talks with Tony (Godsick). I don‘t really plan to play the Davis Cup. There are also no discussions going on as he said. You talk but this is just more general in order to be on the same denominators regarding the Laver Cup, Davis Cup or whatever. That‘s also more talking to the ITF and not directly with Pique.
Personally I hope that the Davis Cup will go well – just like the ATP Cup. And it is clear that you will sit together at the end of the year or in the middle of next year and ask the question: How will things go on? Now there is the Davis Cup and the ATP Cup – will this go on forever? Are these changes which are good for tennis? I am not so sure. At the ATP Cup, the top players are there because they want to play in Australia anyway. The Davis Cup is obviously not that happy about it. It will surely get interesting.
His place secured has the Laver Cup which takes place for the third time this year. What does it mean to you that with Geneva Switzerland will host it?
I‘m extremely looking forward to the home crowd and the atmosphere. Also to spend time with Björn Borg. That‘s a childhood dream come true. He is actually nearly a bigger number than the hero of my youth, Stefan Edberg. I never thought it would be possible to experience this in my career in Geneva. It will surely be an incredible, very special event.
You are not only a player at the Laver Cup but also a co-organizer. Are you more nervous because of this?
When I look back on my last week of holiday I probably thought the most about the doubles. Which pairs should we make? Who is going to play on Friday, who on Saturday? That‘s the kind of things which went to my mind. It‘s already the third edition of the Laver Cup and I made my experiences as organizer.
In the beginning, I was asking myself “How many people will come for the first match on Friday afternoon? Will those people stay the whole day?“ But Prague and Chicago have shown me. The fans stay as long as the players give everything and the team colleagues will watch the matches and the atmosphere is great. Of course, you could think that this event in Switzerland is more important to me personally. But I have seen how quickly the tickets were sold out and I know that the Palexpo hall will work as a venue. I‘m certain that it will be a great weekend.
Is the arrival of the players for you a bit like the coming together of a school camp?
I have only been once to a school camp. And for this, I had to skip the Swiss Junior Championships in Luzern! But I so wanted to take part in a ski camp… (laughs) Yes, it is indeed a bit like that. There won‘t just come the Davis Cup colleagues and the players won‘t arrive with the car. Here come way more guys – seven – and the circle is way more international and therefore also needs way more organization. Everyone arrives, it has to be seen who practices with whom, where do we eat out? Does someone have special wishes etc? There are great guys amongst us – laid-backs, funny ones. We will have a good time in the team. Even though we may be won‘t be as loud as Team World with Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios. From experience, we know that they go crazy! But we have a big team spirit and are just a bit different than the others. Yes, it is a bit of school camp feeling, especially when we will all be finally together. But in our chat, everything is already going on.
Do you have a new WhatsApp Chat in the team or do you continue with the one from last year with Novak Djokovic?
(laughs) You would love to listen to it, right?! No, the chat is actually quite serious most of the time but when we have certain topics someone makes a joke. The chat-group from last year still exists. I think that everyone belongs to it who once took part. I‘m also someone who likes to look back and to refer to previous years. But in reality, the old chat became a bit silent and a new one is activated.
Have you learned something about your rivals because you saw them so close at the Laver Cup?
For me, it is especially exciting to be around Nadal and Djokovic for a week. To spend a week with Rafa and to see how high his intensity is. How does he manage to relax off-court? How does he reach this balance? When you can‘t do it you go nuts. He has it with his colleagues, with his team. When his practice is done he is a relaxed guy – exactly like I knew him. It has impressed me how he always looks for opportunities. He returns from the back and from the front, plays with slice, with spin. He is always on the lookout.
How have you seen Novak Djokovic?
He also has his relaxed but serious side. We are all very similar. To be successful you have to have it. We play so many matches – 50 to 100. It isn‘t like in boxing where you have one, two fights a year. You have to be relaxed 5 minutes before a match. What impressed me the most in Djokovic is his clarity in which he wants to win his match. He says to himself: “I play like this, that leads to success.” Also his whole sequence: How and when he has to eat. Everything has to fit together. I respect that enormously. He knows exactly how he can be ready on point.
How do you see your team members this week?
Thiem says „yes“ to everything: He is totally relaxed, also towards the media. This is a fact. He is known to be super relaxed. Zverev is still young and learning but he actually is also very open and relaxed. At one point he goes into a tunnel. I don‘t know Tsitsipas very well that‘s why I‘m curious how the week will be. Fognini is also totally relaxed. I don‘t know how much he does before a match. Rafa is just an incredible team player. He just needs enough practice. He needs to have one extra hour. I don‘t know how he does it if he sleeps in the afternoon. That is especially important for him. They are all big team players. Novak was incredible, what he needs for his matches, his whole sequence: How and when he has to eat. Everything has to fit together.
And in the evening you meet at the hotel bar?
From time to time, sure. Then we have a drink together. We are all in the same hotel. Team World is in another hotel. There are evenings when we go out for dinner and bring someone along. Personally I try to keep my team small, I want to exemplify that we are a small group. I find it amazing to sit together at a table with Stefanos, Sascha, Thiem and Rafa and we are able to talk about different things. We also drink coffee together, hang around in general and spend a lot of time together.
How do you see Nick Kyrgios?
We have a good fellowship with Team World but it‘s separate. It is a healthy rivalry. Nick for example and Jack Sock are louder when Zverev plays. He finds it quite funny in the beginning but then it is getting on his nerves. And they know that. They are very euphoric on the bench.
On Friday everything is still funny, on Saturday some are annoyed and on Sunday it is getting very serious. The pressure and the tension are increasing and when the opponent wins it‘s getting less fun for you. I have seen Nick as a good team player. I‘m glad that he is here even though from time to time he is controversial,
What do you say to both teams and the imbalance? Europe is the clear favourite.
As long as Europe is strong it has to be the aim to win. Some day things will turn around, even though maybe not immediately. But Team World is favourite in doubles and has big servers who will like the high altitude of Geneva so it surely will get close again. We have seen that in Prague and Chicago. It was our luck that we could decide the close matches for us. I don‘t just say it for the sake of it – I really think that it will get more balanced then it appears on paper. On this paper, our 6th player is still better than the first one of the opponent. But I still have the feeling that it will get close again. There only seems to be this one way at the Laver Cup – and it is a close one.
Have you already seen the hall?
No, not yet. I arrived on Sunday and will practise on Monday afternoon for the first time. I heard from others, for example from people from our sponsor Mercedes, that it is the best hall they have ever seen. That has honestly said surprised me. The Chicago Bulls Arena is actually a Non-Plus-Ultra Stadion which can‘t be topped. But I believe it also has its charm when you can build in a hall exactly what you want. They think that in Geneva the best edition of the Laver Cup can take part – and as it comes from someone indifferent, who only concentrates on the best, it means something. It will have his special charm as it is built temporarily. I‘m looking forward to seeing everything. It will be huge. I know that Tony Godsick and his people have spared neither trouble nor expense to create an incredible event. That‘s why I only expect the best – not only for us players but also for the sponsors and especially for the fans.
There will be a big fan zone.
On Thursday there is a big fan day, where the crowd can come and watch us practice. And on Friday to Sunday, there are also great opportunities to be a part of the spectacle without a ticket and to experience the cool atmosphere. A lot of money was invested in this, the event will be so much more than a tennis tournament!
Should On Running Product a Tennis Shoe for Fed?
Those of you who are eagled eyed will have noticed Federer has been wearing On Running shoes for a while now off the court. Pictured above he's wearing the White CloudX shoes for mixed training.
The firm is a Swiss brand and specialises mainly in athletics and road running shoes. Could they make Federer a new tennis shoe? I don't think they will as it's not really their ball game, but it'd be interesting to see if they did. What do you think?
Laver Cup Day 1 Schedule – 20th September 2019
|Team Europe||Team World|
|Day Session 1 pm|
|Match 1||Dominic Thiem||Denis Shapovalov|
|Match 2||Fabio Fognini||Jack Sock|
|Night Session 7 pm|
|Match 3||Stefanos Tsitsipas||Taylor Fritz|
|Match 4||Roger Federer / Alexander Zverev||Denis Shapovalov / Jack Sock|
Do you like the racquet? Are you guys looking forward to the Laver Cup III? I know some of you guys are going for the full weekend, so if you are, let me know in the comments.