The Laver Cup – tennis’ own version of golf’s Ryder Cup – kicks off for a fourth time on Friday on hardcourts at the TD Garden stadium in Boston having been cancelled last year, a casualty of the worldwide Covid pandemic.
We are going to have a massive home advantage. I am very excited. Boston is a big one for me. I have never been here before and it’s the home of the Boston Celtics [basketball team] so I am really looking forward to coming here and putting on a show and hopefully this time getting Team World over the line. Nick Kyrgios
Ironically perhaps, but the Ryder Cup is also being contested the same weekend in Haven, Wisconsin where Europe will attempt to retain the trophy on American soil!
Team Europe are currently Laver Cup champions having won the Cup at all the three previous occasions it was contested.
This year the team will be without Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic but they are still able to field a strong side in their six-man line-up including four players in the world’s top five. They will also be captained by Bjorn Borg (Europe) and John McEnroe (World).
Stefanos Tsitsipas, the world number three from Greece, is looking forward to playing at the weekend in what will be his second appearance having debuted in 2019.
“It is great being a part of Team Europe again and I look forward to playing in Boston,” Tsitsipas, 23, this year’s French Open runner-up, said. “I feel like it’s a different eye, different view of this sport we are used to playing individually.”
Tsitsipas has been in the spotlight these last few months for his views on the Covid vaccine and the lengthy toilet breaks he has now become famous for. As regards the vaccine he has recently revealed he will be jabbed later in the year while his toilet breaks are being reviewed by the ATP who intend to amend the rules covering them.
The world number two, Daniil Mevedev, who succeeded in stopping Djokovic claiming a calendar Grand Slam when he defeated him for the US Open title two weeks ago, will be making his Laver Cup debut. He arrives in Boston with an 18-2 win-loss record since Wimbledon.
The Russian should be a welcome addition given the way he has interacted with crowds in the past. Speaking after his victory over Djokovic he said that he planned to enjoy himself for a few days before thinking about tennis again.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the world number four, a member of the successful 2019 team, has also been recalled having captured his fifth ATP Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati, before enjoying a run to the semi-finals at the US Open.
Completing Team Europe’s line-up are Russia’s Andrey Rublev (5), Italy’s Matteo Berretini (7) and Norway’s Casper Ruud (10).
They will be facing Canadian’s Denis Shapovalov making his third appearance in the competition, and Felix Auger Aliassime, at 12 and 11 respectively, the highest ranked players in Team World. Aliassime will be full of confidence having made the last four at Flushing Meadows.
Two big serving American’s will no doubt be roared on by the partisan Boston crowd, namely Reilly Opelka (19) and John Isner (22) while Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman (15) and Nick Kyrgios (95) can never be underrated, especially the Aussie.
The Australian’s charismatic personality gels perfectly with the Ryder Cup-style format and he will be one of the biggest cheerleaders from the side-lines for Team World.
The controversial Kyrgios will also bring some fire to the court as there is very little love between himself, Tsitsipas and Ruud, with whom he has a had a difference of opinions. Tsitsipas for instance attracted Kyrgios’ attention with his toilet breaks which the Aussie described as #bathroomgate on social media, while Ruud called him an ‘idiot’ in an interview later in the year after the Aussie was defaulted in a match with the Norwegian.
Can Team World prevent another Team Europe win?
They have been getting closer losing 15-9 in 2017, 13-8 in 2018 and 13-11 in 2019 with that last one actually going to the wire, as Team World led 11-10 going into the last rubber only for Milos Raonic to lose out to Zverev in a super-tiebreak.
“We are going to have a massive home advantage,” Kyrgios believes. “I am very excited. Boston is a big one for me. I have never been here before and it’s the home of the Boston Celtics [basketball team] so I am really looking forward to coming here and putting on a show and hopefully this time getting Team World over the line.”
The event, which can be followed on Eurosport, is set to be at near-full capacity over all five sessions, with 20,000 fans likely to be very vocal in their backing for Team World, particularly with two Americans and two Canadians on the team, and the Ryder Cup taking place on the same weekend.