The 2022 Laver Cup matches begin Friday in London. Amid the fanfare of Roger Federer playing in his final professional event, a handful of clear stories are developing as match play approaches.
Roger Federer’s Last Event
No need to bury the lead. Roger Federer will play his final professional level match on Friday in Day 1 of The Laver Cup. The 41-year-old Swiss announced his retirement last week. As one of the creators of the Laver Cup, it is fitting he will end his career here. Playing only doubles, in a questionable decision, Federer may share the court with long-time rival Rafael Nadal as he closes his competitive career. There are likely to be few dry eyes on the court when this one ends.
The Big 3 Together
Federer, Nadal, and teammate Novak Djokovic each hold 20 more Grand Slam titles. This will be the first time they are on the same team since they each won their 20th Grand Slam. Likely, a trio of champions like this will never be seen again.
With the addition of Andy Murray, the sometimes referred to Big 4 will be on the same Laver Cup team for the first time. Murray will make his Laver Cup debut in London.
Team World Giant Underdog
While the Team Europe roster holds a combined 65 Grand Slam titles, Team World holds 0. In fact, only Frances Tiafoe of Team World has ever played in a Grand Slam semi-final. He lost in the semis at the US Open earlier this month.
Additionally, Team Europe’s roster boasts four players inside the world’s top ten ranked players. Casper Ruud holds the #2 ranking, Nadal #3, Stefanos Tsitsipas #6 and Djokovic #7. Arguably, Djokovic could be considered #1 but for Wimbledon not awarding ranking points and his not being allowed to play the US Open.
Startlingly, Team World could be even stronger if world #1, Carlos Alcarez was added an team alternate rather than Matteo Berrettini.
Still, Team World should not be counted out. John McEnroe’s squad brings world #12 Taylor Fritz, #19 Tiafoe and doubles specialist Jack Sock.
More than any other big-time tennis event, doubles shines bright at The Laver Cup. Raucous crowds and wild team celebrations are trademarks of Laver Cup doubles. There is a doubles match each day and these matches combine to count for a full 25% of Laver Cup points.
Additionally, Federer announced his one Laver Cup match this weekend will be in doubles. Friday night’s doubles match may be the most anticipated doubles match in history. The crowd will be juiced, the players focused and the match significant. Sweet.
Related, Team World’s Jack Sock has played in a record nine Laver Cup doubles matches winning seven. Sock was the team alternate in 2021 but expect him on the court for two or three doubles matches this year.
Started in 2017, the Laver Cup features matches between Team Europe and Team World. Each team is comprised of six players. Scoring is designed to foster value on doubles and increased pressure on Sunday. As reported in this space last year, scoring logistics remain the same:
There are four matches each day, three singles and one doubles match.
Played over three days, each day’s matches increase in point value. In order to guarantee that no team wins the cup before Sunday, a full 50% of the points are awarded on Sunday. A team must win 13 of 24 total points to claim the Laver Cup.
Day 1 –4 matches x 1 point = 4 points. 16.5% of total points available
Day 2 –4 matches x 2 points – 8 points. 33.5% of total points available
Day 3 –4 matches x 3 points = 12 points. 50% of total points available
In 2021, Team Europe captured the requisite 13th point in the first match played on Sunday, trouncing Team World 14-1.
In the first Laver Cup, played in 2017 the affair came down to the final match when Roger Federer defeated Nick Kyrigos 11-9 in a 10-point tiebreaker to claim the cup for Team Europe.
Team World has never reached the magical 13th point. Most experts expect they will leave London on Sunday with this trait intact.
Ready or Not
So the stage is set, almost.
Rightfully, as the realization that Federer is retiring grows, media attention not normally given to the Laver Cup will continue to expand in the next few days.
At the same time, Team World might be able to capitalize on the fanfare and exhibition type atmosphere beginning to build. To European players and fans this might look like a celebration and coronation. To the visitors, it may be a sneaky-opportunity.
On Sunday afternoon, Team Europe may find itself in unfamiliar territory. Time to play.