Tennis news - Will Team World finally win Laver Cup in 2021? Who is playing? Daniil Medvedev leads Europe
The 2021 Laver Cup starts in Boston in September with some new and exciting names involved in the event. Will Team World finally beat Team Europe? Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas will be the highest-ranked players for Team Europe while Nick Kyrgios and John Isner will be playing for Team World. All you need to know ahead of the event.
‘Keep the points under five shots!’ - The time Nadal coached Federer at Laver Cup
There’s just over a month to go until the fourth edition of the Laver Cup and the team line-ups have been confirmed.
Team Europe are undefeated so far at the event, which this year will be played in Boston from September 24-26, but it will be a very different line up as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are missing.
So who is playing for Team Europe and Team World? And what are the chances of John McEnroe’s Team World getting their first Laver Cup victory?
It’s a team event that pits the best male players from Europe against the best players from the rest of the world. Named after the legendary Rod Laver, the event was first held in 2017 and became an official part of the ATP Tour in 2019.
Each team has six players and the tournament is played over three days, with four matches on each day (three singles and a doubles match). Three of the six players qualify based on their ATP singles ranking immediately after the French Open while three are picked by team captains Bjorn Borg (Team Europe) and McEnroe (Team World). The first three editions were played in Prague, Chicago and Geneva.
Like the Ryder Cup, the Laver Cup is played in front of a raucous and partisan crowd. Players who are rivals for the rest of the year cheer each other on and ecstatically celebrate victories together.
Laver Cup flashback: Team Europe celebrate wildly with Champagne in 2019
Matches are worth more as the tournament progresses. Each match win on Friday is worth one point, then two points on Saturday, and three points on Sunday. The first team to reach 13 points out of a possible 24 available points wins the Laver Cup. If the score is tied at 12-12 then a deciding fifth match is played on Sunday.
No player can play singles more than twice during the three days and at least four of the six players must play doubles.
Who’s playing this year?
For Team Europe it’s more a case of who’s not playing rather than who is. Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Dominic Thiem will all be unavailable, meaning there will be four debutants in the team.
World No 2 Daniil Medvedev, world No 7 Andrey Rublev, world No 8 Matteo Berrettini and world No 11 Casper Ruud will all be playing the tournament for the first time. They will be joining Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev in Borg’s team.
“I’m really excited,” said Medvedev. “Playing as part of a team is special for us, as we don’t get the chance to do that often. I’m also looking forward to being on the same side of the net for once with some of my biggest rivals on the tour!”
'Don't be scared!' - Federer coaches Tsitsipas at Laver Cup 2019
Team World have called up big-serving American duo John Isner and Reilly Opelka along with Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, Argentinean Diego Schwartzman and Australian Nick Kyrgios.
“Laver Cup is my favourite week of the year and I just love being part of the team,” said Kyrgios, who will be playing the event for the fourth time.
“It’s going to be unreal playing at TD Garden, home of the Celtics. Boston fans love their sport, so if we can win the Laver Cup anywhere, then TD Garden and Boston, one of the greatest sports cities in the world, is the place to do it.”
Will Team World finally win?
This looks to be their best chance.
They have been getting closer over the previous three editions, losing 15-9 in 2017, 13-8 in 2018 and 13-11 in 2019. The most recent Laver Cup went to the wire with Team World leading 11-10 going into the final match, but losing after Zverev beat Milos Raonic in a super-tiebreaker.
Federer has been a key player for Team Europe – he holds the record for most points won at the Laver Cup (18), most singles matches won (6) and most singles points won (15). Nadal’s strike rate hasn’t been as good as Federer’s but he will still be a big miss, while Djokovic, who has only competed in the event once in 2018, would also have strengthened Team Europe.
“We’ve had some tough losses over the past couple of years and have come painfully close,” said McEnroe.
“I believe that with the energy of the home crowd behind us and maybe a little bit of luck we can get the win this time.”
The next Laver Cup is set to be played in London, and Team Europe captain Borg is confident in keeping hold of the trophy.
“We have a great team this year, with six of the top 11, I like our chances,” Borg said. “It’s never easy and we’ve been fortunate to keep our winning streak, but the pressure is on for us to defend our title. Team World is hungry.”
Team Europe lift the Laver Cup trophy in 2019 after securing hat-trick of titles
Where does the Laver Cup fit in the calendar?
The Laver Cup starts two weeks after the conclusion of the US Open, so players will probably stick around in the US after the final Grand Slam of the year. The tour would then usually head to the Far East, but that swing has been cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are currently tournaments in San Diego and Bulgaria the week after the Laver Cup before the rescheduled Masters event in Indian Wells starts on October 7.
Nick Kyrgios at the Laver Cup
Image credit: Eurosport
Will WTA players be involved at some point?
It doesn’t seem to be on the cards right now, despite some calls for more mixed events. The Hopman Cup was a popular mixed tournament held before the Australian Open but it has not been staged over the last two years. It is set to return in 2022. Andy Murray said last year that he would like to see more mixed events played.
"I think sports miss a bit of a trick with this stuff. The Hopman Cup, for example, was a brilliant event in my opinion. The players enjoyed it. I played there a bunch of times and I loved it.
"Putting match-ups in tennis like Serena Williams and Roger Federer on the same court, it is so brilliant for our sport.”