Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer doubles, Andy Murray v Frances Tiafoe: What are dream Laver Cup matches?
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in doubles? Andy Murray v Frances Tiafoe? Nadal v Taylor Fritz for the third time this year? What are the Laver Cup matches we want to see? It looks certain that Roger Federer will team up with Nadal in doubles on Friday evening, but there are plenty of other potential standout clashes at the event at London's O2 Arena.
'I can’t believe that I went through the surgeries' – Federer on injury battle
As well as the 'Big Four' of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who is playing his last-ever tournament before retirement, there’s world No. 2 Casper Ruud, world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, and four other top-20 players, including US Open semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe.
With singles and doubles to come over the three days of the 2022 Laver Cup at the O2 Arena, what are the dream match-ups?
Seeing the 'Fedal' bromance close up has been one of the highlights of the Laver Cup so far.
Whether it’s teaming up in doubles, celebrating on the bench together, or jumping into each other’s arms after a decisive victory, the chemistry between Federer and Nadal has been fantastic to watch. Considering how their legendary careers have been so entwined it would be fitting for Federer to bow out after teaming up with Nadal.
It’s unfortunate that Federer is only playing one doubles match as it would have been wonderful to have seen him team up with Murray, who said it would be “really special”.
So far at the Laver Cup we’ve seen Federer and Nadal in doubles and Federer and Djokovic, but not yet Nadal and Djokovic, whose appearances at the tournament have not matched up (Djokovic has only played one previous Laver Cup in 2018 and Nadal’s two appearances have been in 2017 and 2019).
There may not appear to be the same chemistry between Nadal and Djokovic as there is with Nadal and Federer, but they have played competitive doubles together before.
Nadal and Djokovic teamed up at the Canadian Open in 2010 when they were world No. 1 and world No. 2 respectively and lost to Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic. It was the first time in 34 years that the top two players on the ATP Tour had joined forces in doubles.
They are no longer the top two players in the world but they are the last of the 'Big Four' still challenging for Grand Slam titles and seeing them on court together would be great.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal attend the 2018 Arthur Ashe Kids' Day at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 25, 2018 in New York City
Image credit: Getty Images
Murray v Tiafoe
The absence of Nick Kyrgios from Team World means there aren’t as many spicy match-ups, but Murray v Tiafoe has been a fun one in the past.
The pair have met three times, most recently in Antwerp in 2021 in the longest three-set match of the year, lasting three hours and 45 minutes. In a thrilling contest, Tiafoe was the more aggressive player and passed up two match points in the final-set tie-break. After embracing at the net the pair also had a post-match debrief.
"In the locker room we had a much more in-depth chat about tennis, not so much the match," Murray revealed. "That was kind of rare I would say. I think maybe once I've had that conversation…twice.”
A repeat of that Antwerp clash would be one of the highlights of the Laver Cup.
Highlights: Murray edges out Tiafoe in three-set thriller in Antwerp
Fritz v Nadal trilogy
Both times Nadal has faced Taylor Fritz this year he has been injured.
In the final of Indian Wells, when Nadal was riding a 20-match winning streak but battling a rib injury, Fritz was able to put his opponent away, playing a very good match to win his first Masters title.
But in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon it was Nadal who prevailed in five sets despite his team telling him to retire during the match due to an abdominal issue. It was a loss that stung Fritz.
“Literally after the match was over, I was sitting there and I felt like crying” he said. “I’ve never felt like that ever after a loss. I’ve never felt like I could cry after a loss. That’s telling enough to know that this one hurt more than any other one’s hurt before.”
Highlights: Fritz claims first Masters title with stunning win over Nadal at Indian Wells
Fritz would surely relish the chance of another meeting with Nadal.
Tiafoe v Nadal would also be a good one.
It would be fascinating to see if Tiafoe could follow up his strong performance against Nadal at the US Open with another victory. Tiafoe was aggressive and outhit Nadal as he upset him in four sets in the fourth round in New York.
Djokovic v Auger-Aliassime
If Team World are going to cause an upset they are surely going to need Felix Auger-Aliassime at his best.
The world No. 13 has had a mixed season and hasn’t really kicked on after making the quarter-finals of Wimbledon and semi-finals of the US Open in 2021. He is clearly a very talented player with a big game and has made the quarter-finals of the last four consecutive Masters 1000 events.
It was at one of those quarter-finals in Rome that Auger-Aliassime first faced Djokovic, giving him a stern test before losing 7-5 7-6(1). Djokovic was full of praise for his opponent after an entertaining tussle.
“He’s got a lethal serve. Honestly, it’s one thing to practice and another thing to play against somebody in an official match. He’s also returning well, he's moving well - he’s a very complete player.”
Auger-Aliassime has the game to beat most players and could give Djokovic a stern test.
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