What is the Laver Cup? That has become a pertinent question in 2023. One discussion between Monfils and Auger-Aliassime shed light on the matter.
What is the Laver Cup?
Most of us know that the Laver Cup is a team competition started by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. This is a Laver Cup Wikipedia excerpt:
The Laver Cup is an international indoor hard court men’s team tennis tournament between Team Europe, which includes players from Europe and Russia, and Team World, the latter of which is composed of players from all other continents except Europe. Usually held annually since 2017, the tournament is intended to be the Ryder Cup of the tennis world.
In 2019, the Laver Cup became an officially sanctioned ATP Tour event. Still, it seems to fall somewhere in between an exhibition and serious tournament.
In short, Monfils was taken a long time between points and didn’t seem to act like it was a serious match. This annoyed Auger-Aliassime, who thought it should lead to a time violation warning. Monfils was surprised by Aliassime’s reaction since he had allegedly been told that this was a fun and relaxed event. He indicated that he might not have come there if he knew it was “so serious”.
Exhibition or Serious Event?
I think their little argument makes it clear that the tournament still has an identity crisis. Is it an exhibition or is it a serious team tournament like the Davis Cup? (Well, most people seem to be less into the Davis Cup these days since the format changes).
Many comments on my YouTube video about the topic indicate that this is a serious event and Monfils was silly to think otherwise. But it’s not all crystal clear.
First of all, players seem to react differently to the event. This year showed that Team World takes this event a lot more seriously than Team Europe. They won with a record-breaking 13-2 score. It was a demolition. Only Casper Ruud won a match for Team Europe.
The teams looked pretty even ahead of the event, but it seems like the vibes around the team are radically different. Team World acts very hungry for the win, while the energy in Team Europe is a little more lukewarm. Maybe it’s the captain style and energy of the McEnroe bros vs. Borg and Enqvist, but this year was the worst Laver Cup so far, with a complete blowout.
If there would have been equal points for each match instead of the 1 point day one, 2 points day two and 3 points day three, format, they could have stopped after day 2. The scoring system is smart to make sure the event keeps going, but this year it felt a little forced. And you do wonder if you could have a similar system if the tournament didn’t have the feel of an exhibition.
No Fedal, no Novak, no Murray
The Laver Cup has so far relied heavily on the GOATs. Last year was the pinnacle with Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray all playing for Team Europe (they still lost, though). The Federer farewell was beautiful, but this year felt hollow in comparison without these four titans on the roster.
Federer did his best to be a strong presence in Vancouver and market the event, but I feel that will not be enough in the long run. Maybe there is a chance for survival if a revenge-hungry Team Europe shows up with Alcaraz and Djokovic in the field, but unless that happens, I do wonder about the future of the Laver Cup.
Keen to hear your thoughts below. Did you watch it this year?