Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2021 Laver Cup.
Welcome to the 2021 Laver Cup for what profiles as another great event on a calendar full of them. It’s held in one of America’s biggest cities, namely…
Wait, where is it played again?
Hold on, we’re being told something in our inner ear microphone that the 2021 Laver Cup is played in Boston. So as we were saying, welcome to Boston for the 2021 Laver Cup, one of the undeniable remaining bright spots on this year’s calendar of men’s tennis. You’ll forgive us, but this year the Laver Cup has crept up on us, what with the ongoing pandemic, the would-be Novak Djokovic Grand Slam, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and a slew of other things.
For the most part, this year’s Laver Cup has more or less just arrived at random. But it’s here now.
What’s the Laver Cup?
This is already the fourth edition of this annual event after being launched by Roger Federer, his management company, Tennis Australia and former Brazilian Davis Cup player Jorge Paulo Lemann. It’s, essentially, the tennis answer to golf’s Ryder Cup, a team competition pitting some of the best players from Europe against some of the best players from the United States. In the case of the Laver Cup, players are from Europe, or from the rest of the world.
In case you thought the above included a lot of names from the tennis firmament, you just wait. Because there is plenty more where that came from.
As you can probably guess, this tournament is named so in honor of the great Rod Laver, whom we heard many, many things about in recent days due to Djokovic’s (ultimately doomed) bid at a calendar-year golden Grand Slam. Not only that, but the two team captains are Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.
What makes this 2021 edition special?
Essentially, this 2021 Laver Cup is a great opportunity to watch the next great champions of the ATP in action and battling it out. Because for the most part and unlike in years past, the next great champions of men’s tennis are who are competing here this year.
Team Europe has no one aged more than 25 years old beyond its alternate, 40-year-old Feliciano Lopez. Team World, meanwhile, will rely on 29-year-old Diego Schwartzman and 36-year-old John Isner but they’re still rather young otherwise.
According to Sports Betting Dime, Team Europe is a -400 favorite over Team World and all signs point to a comfortable European victory. All six European players are ranked higher than every member of Team World and the head-to-head score between the relevant competitors is 63-46 in favor of the Europeans. Making matters worse for Team World, nine of those 46 victories belong to Nick Kyrgios, who has not only fallen from 30th in the world to 95th in the past two years, but also enters the Laver Cup on a four-match losing streak.
That’s right: the one player who could make a difference for the World team is none other than Kyrgios! What could go wrong, you ask? That’s precisely what makes the 2021 edition of the event so much fun.
The Australian has typically performed at his best when he’s played freely and carefree tennis. This tends to happen when he either has nothing to lose, or when he’s playing at exhibition events.
So how about it? Let us know who you think will capture the win in the comments below.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG