Muted end to a flat Laver Cup as next year’s host city is revealed
There may never be a Laver Cup like the 2022 event in London, yet the future of the event may be questioned if we have too many more like the 2023 edition.
Team World clinched a one-sided competition as their star turns Ben Shelton and Frances Tiafoe won a doubles match against Hubert Hurkacz and Andrey Rublev, sealing a 13-2 win in a match that never really caught fire.
This event very different has a very different feel compared to the events of a year ago, as Roger Federer’s remarkable career ended in a Laver Cup that featured a thrilling fightback from Team World on the final day as they overcame Team Europe in a thriller.
There was no such drama this year, as John McEnroe’s Team World held the upper hand since the first ball was struck on Friday and wrapped up the match with plenty to spare in the first match on Sunday.
It was something of an anti-climax for the big crowd in Vancouver, with the Canadian crowd likely to have felt a little short-changed a there was limited drama.
Federer’s presence in Vancouver gave the event some star quality, but the absence of Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Holger Rune and Stefanos Tsitsipas from Team Europe meant they were fielding a second-string side.
“It felt unbelievable to kick there a** baby!” said an exuberant McEnroe. “They kicked ours many times.
“It was a battle to the end when we won last year and we came in, great team spirit, good combination of youth and experience. I felt it from the word go and we stepped up. I thought all the guys played great.”
Shelton was a star performer to Team World and he offered up an excited post-event interview as he backed up his fine run at the Laver Cup with an exuberant interview.
“It’s been crazy for me and I’ve enjoyed being in a team environment,” Shelton said.
“I’ve enjoyed playing for Johnny Mac. Team World really brought the energy this week. It’s easy for me to play when I’m amped up and hyped and the bench has done a great job of hyping me up all week.
“I hope I’ve done a good job of hyping them up too. Playing with Frances speaks for itself, easiest guy to play with, most fun guy to be on court with.”
Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg offered up a low-key speech to the crowd as an event that has now had six editions concluded with some questions hovering over it.
Players such as Alexander Zverev and Holger Rune have opted to focus their attention on ATP Tour events in China rather than playing at the Laver Cup and that could be a problem for the event as Berlin prepares the countdown to their year as hosts.
Federer’s central role in the organisation of this event may now be crucial in ensuring some of Europe’s biggest stars are back for the Berlin event next September.
Zverev will be a key player to add to the guest list for Team Europe in his home country and the prospect of Djokovic and Alcaraz playing on the same team (and possibly teaming up together in doubles) would be box office entertainment.
A year after Federer and Nadal played together in a team that also featured Djokovic and Andy Murray, the star quality needed to ensure the Laver Cup is a big success was lacking this time.
Here’s hoping organisers can put that right in 2024.
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