Thanks to the Laver Cup, the Swiss was able to realize a last tennis dream: to make his retirement a party, and a collective celebration of the game under the patronage of Rod Laver. Even the most fervent opponents of the event created in 2017 had to face the facts: the evening was more than successful and this Friday, September 23 will surely be a milestone. Because this exit from the stage played, so to speak, the role of group therapy in the face of a page in the history of the game that was turning. Nothing was affected and the image of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal side by side in tears will remain as the dream conclusion of an extraordinary rivalry.
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Could this be the birth certificate of a growing rivalry cementing the sporting interest of the event? Federer dreams of it, seeing it with his agent Tony Godsick as a tennis reincarnation of the Ryder Cup in golf. Time may prove him right. Unless he underestimates his personal weight and that of his Big 3 rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the success of the moment. Because the third major advantage of this Laver Cup remains the exceptional association of these great rivals in the same team. The event produces images unthinkable during classic tournaments: seeing the Serb “coach” the Swiss and the Spaniard during their doubles is a blatant example.
However, the “Big 3” is now over. Roger Federer will be present for the 2023 edition in Vancouver, but now retired, he will not be on the court, or even on the bench, giving advice to his European teammates. “I would like to thank Björn (Borg, editor’s note), our captain. You are the king, you know it, I love you. It’s always super nice with you and I look forward to next year. I will also be there to support both teams in a different role“, he thus dropped during the trophy ceremony.
And neither Rafael Nadal nor Novak Djokovic are eternal. They have not participated in all editions since 2017 – the Mallorcan has played three Laver Cups, the Serb two – and the coaching images on the bench will not have the same impact. Certainly, the event also has the advantage of summoning the nostalgia of tennis fans and paying tribute to the history of the game with Björn Borg and John McEnroe as emblematic captains. But the silence of the Swede is not likely to unleash passions.
So to maintain the flame, wouldn’t Roger Federer be the ideal person to take up the torch on the bench of Team Europe? Given the popularity of the interested party, it would probably be the assurance of making this meeting unmissable. “I’m sure Roger will stay involved in this event one way or another and maybe one day as captain of the team. He is great at the edge of the field. He watches a lot of tennis, he loves this sport“, has also entrusted Andy Murray.
Team World won the trophy for the first time in 2022
Credit: Getty Images
Clarify its status by removing the super tie-break
In the meantime, the Swiss is confident in the future. As he likes to repeat, tennis is bigger than its most famous players. New superstars will emerge, Carlos Alcaraz is perhaps the most brilliant proof of this. It is no coincidence that the Murcian, new world number 1, was approached this year to participate in the Laver Cup. If he declined the offer for timing reasons, it’s probably only a postponement.
It remains to be seen whether the rivalries of the future and the champions involved will be as charismatic as the Big 3. The future success of the Laver Cup will necessarily depend on it, unless by then it establishes itself as a prestigious and attractive competition on its only name, as the Grand Slam tournaments are today and as the Davis Cup was. But to do this, perhaps it will be necessary to get rid of the last elements which bring it closer to an exhibition: the absence of ATP points and this super tie-break which creates a break with the classic tournament format.
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