Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the 2017 Rod Laver Cup.

What do you know, maybe we were too harsh on tennis all along?

One of the things we’ve harped on over and over and over in our years of making this Tennis Elbow column was that we think of tennis as this monolithic monument—basically, that we think the sport is unwilling or too slow to welcome change.

But then out of nowhere on a random September week, tennis has this random party called the Rod Laver Cup? Where does that come from? Well then you dig deeper and you realize this tournament is actually Roger Federer’s initiative and it all becomes clear: it’s not so much that tennis has welcome this change but more that it has embraced Federer. Tennis would probably introduce a skating rink playing surface if King Roger suggested it.

But anyway, so the Rod Laver Cup huh? We’re here to give you a little primer on what is the Rod Laver Cup.

So tell what’s the Rod Laver Cup.

What, you mean that the above wasn’t good enough for you?

No but, like, I mean is it a tournament? Just glorified tennis matches?

Well who says no to more tennis for one thing? The Rod Laver Cup, if we read from the How It Works section on their website, “will pit six top European players against their counterparts from the rest of the world in tennis.”

Fun, right? Fun.

Okay but back up a minute. Who’s playing?

Bjorn Borg is Team Europe’s captain and he’s looked at Federer, Rafael Nadal, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Tomas Berdych in his bid for world domination. Standing across the nets from them will be John McEnroe’s Team World: Jack Sock, Nick Kyrgios, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe.

So basically, Team Europe is gonna kick Team World’s hind parts?

Yeah Team Europe definitely profiles as the top team here—as it should be! In tennis, most of the top players are from Europe so this isn’t exactly surprising.

Who won?

Not that it really matters—because, again, this is an exhibition tournament and all it amounts to is bragging rights in the schoolyard—but Team Europe took it by the score of 15-9.


What kind of score is this?

Well it’s a complicated one is what kind of score that one is.

Yeah, I’ll say!

Think of the Rod Laver Cup as the tennis equivalent of golf’s Ryder Cup. You play tennis matches, in this case two sets each with a potential 10-point tiebreak if both players have split the first two sets.

There’s a bunch of restrictions as to who can play what matches too. For example, a minimum of four of the players per team must compete in doubles while no individual player can play singles more than twice. But like, basically garb the popcorn, kick back and watch the matches.

Is that it?

There’s another catch. The Rod Laver Cup wants to make sure that the Sunday of the competition is the one for all the marbles, rather than the first two days. For every win on Friday, you get one point; on Saturday, two points; and on Sunday, three points. Whichever team gets to 13 points first wins. And that’s how we get a 15-9 final score for Team Europe. The end.

One final question: who is Rod Laver again?

Oh you youngsters out there. Rod Laver is a pretty big deal still, and was an incredibly big deal when he played tennis. Here’s his Wikipedia page.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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