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Why Tiebreakers Elevate the Excitement of the Laver Cup

Arthur Ashe Stadium

Tennis tiebreakers are often a roll of the dice. After playing evenly for an extended amount of time, a relatively short tiebreaker is used to determine the winner. Usually, tiebreakers determine the winner of a set. In Laver Cup play, whether singles or doubles, if the Team World and Team Europe opponents split sets, the entire match is determined by a 10-point tiebreaker.

At the professional level, these 10-point tiebreakers, often called match or super tiebreakers, are usually reserved for doubles. At the Laver Cup, they can provide fans with the most exciting moments of the event.


The Laver Cup is played over three days. Four matches are scheduled daily, on a single court – in a potentially raucous indoor arena. On Day 1 and Day 2, the matches are split into afternoon and evening sessions. With a myriad of unique scoring rules in effect, the matches carry increasing value as the teams move toward Day 3, where a full half of the total points are available. With the use of only one court, the 10-pointers help move play along and keep players fresh. They also tend to generate a ton of excitement.

With each match victory contributing points to Team World and Team Europe’s chase to 13 points, a match-deciding tiebreaker elevates the intensity and excitement. The signature moment of the Laver Cup came in 2017 when Roger Federer slipped past Nick Kyrigos 11-9 in the breaker to claim the inaugural Laver Cup title for Team Europe. The contrasting celebration and tears helped put the event on the tennis map.

A Major Factor

Beginning in 2017 in Prague, the Laver Cup has now been contested five times. Covid induced a skip in 2020. In the 55 total matches played, 35 needed the 10-point breaker. That’s right, nearly 64% of Laver Cup matches needed a tiebreaker to determine the winner.

Because Day 2 and Day 3 matches count for more points, the impact on point totals is even more significant. Across the five years of play, 68 Laver Cup points were determined through 10-point tiebreakers. Only 37 points were claimed through straight-set wins. Amazingly, of the 15 singles matches played on Day 2 of the event, Team World possesses only one straight-set singles win.

Records in the 10-point breakers are surprisingly lopsided. Team Europe holds a commanding lead in singles play with a 17-7 record in match tiebreakers. At the same time, Team World is 9-2 in tiebreakers that settled doubles matches. Overall, Team Europe holds a narrow 19-16 advantage in Laver Cup breakers.

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Individual Leaders

Team World’s Jack Sock holds the record for the most 10-point tiebreakers played and won. Sock is 7-4 all-time in such affairs. American John Isner lost more of these deciders than anyone else; He carried a 2-5 Laver Cup tiebreaker record into retirement.

Amazingly, Roger Federer lost more 10-point tiebreakers than anyone else for Team Europe. His dominance in straight-set matches hides his surprising 1-4 record in 10-pointers. His six singles and eight overall wins are the most all-time for Team Europe. Alexander Zverev leads Team Europe in 10-point breaker wins with four.

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More Than the Numbers

While the numbers tell some of the story, the atmosphere in the arena sets Laver Cup tiebreakers apart. The Laver Cup sorely needs some changes, but the 10-pointers must stay. With each match contributing to the team’s total points, fans pour on the enthusiasm during the deciders. Likewise, team members cheer from the bench and provide coaching and tips after nearly every point. Some of the wild celebrations after these points help set the Laver Cup apart from any other tennis event. Starting Friday, the Laver Cup tiebreakers will be back – get ready.

Main Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran – USA TODAY Sports


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