Roger Federer, on how Laver Cup has exceeded his expectations, and potential captaincy
Since its inception in 2017, Laver Cup has captivated fans and connected the sports’ generations in a unique, compelling way. With Roger Federer’s support, it’s no surprise that it continues to thrive.
Roger Federer and Laver Cup. The two names go hand-in-hand, and that correlation is probably the biggest reason that the event has grown from niche to staple over the course of six seasons since its 2017 debut.
What started as the brainchild of Federer and his agent Tony Godsick – food for thought on a long commute during the Asian swing – has morphed into a perfect, and perfectly compelling, mix of starpower, nostalgia and rivalry that captivates the tennis world every autumn.
Just when we think we’ve had enough tennis after three Grand Slams in a three-month span, capped by the electric but energy-sapping US Open, we are sucked in by Laver Cup’s je ne sais quoi, and dive headfirst into a weekend full of drama, star turns and sideline coaching like we’ve never seen before.
“Maybe one day, I’ll be the Captain of the team. There’s no plans as of now, but I think that could be quite nice.”— Roger Federer
The commitment of Federer has driven home the point: Laver Cup is a tennis event worth watching. Throw in Nadal, Djokovic and a cast of other top players – all of whom are thrilled to take part in something so unique – and we have a legacy that grows with each passing year.
It will be hard to top last year’s Laver Cup, which saw the official retirement of Federer in one of the most emotional moments that the sport has ever seen. Indelible images of Nadal and Federer sobbing and holding each other’s hand flooded the internet as the event went viral.
This year can’t possibly top that iconic moment, but Federer is in Vancouver, focused on making it a wonderful experience for fans and players alike.
This year will be a big test for the event, which is decidedly lacking in big names compared to previous versions. Can the event hold up with Federer playing a supporting role, his playing days now behind him? Since 2017 fans have lined up to watch Federer participate. Will they continue to line up just to see him in any capacity?
Federer as a captain? Chances are good…
And for those who simply cannot get enough of Federer, there is more good news. He appears to be more and more open to stepping in for the great Bjorn Borg as captain somewhere down the line.
“I like being in the tennis sphere,” Federer said. “Maybe one day, I’ll be the captain of the team. There’s no plans as of now, but I think that could be quite nice.”
Quite nice indeed. And surely good for attendance, though Laver Cup doesn’t seem to need any help with that.
What’s special about Laver Cup (and why fans rush to buy tickets) is that it perfectly bridges the gap between generations of tennis legends: named after Laver, captained by Borg and McEnroe, played by the next generation, and backed wholeheartedly by them all.
That was part of Federer and Godsick’s plan all along.
Evolution of Laver Cup – Beyond Federer’s expectations
“We started discussing how I think it would be great to have the best players get together and also have a place where the former greats can reunite and have a role to play,” Federer said, in an interview published on the Laver Cup website on Wednesday.
“For me, it’s personally completely exceeded expectations. I never thought I was going to play in Geneva [and] obviously also a little bit nostalgic for me to retire at The O2, where I did play a lot of my matches.
“Seeing the camaraderie, people from different countries coming together in a team, like me and Rafa or me and Novak, has been wonderful… seeing the fun and the joy that Borg and McEnroe have brought to the teams but also how much they enjoy their roles has been great.”
Even better? It’s just three days that doesn’t take too big of a bite out of the ATP’s calendar or demand too much of the players at a stage of the season where conserving energy is at a premium.
Laver Cup is a competition, but it’s also a celebration. A place to worship at the altar of tennis past and tennis present, and see the tour’s top players in cities where they rarely have been seen before. Boston, Chicago and Vancouver come to mind. Passionate sports towns that are dying for the chance to pay homage to Federer and see today’s top stars up close and personal in a fan friendly environment.
“Looking back at all the last editions, they’ve all been sold out, they’ve all been so much fun,” Federer says, adding that the players benefit from it just as much as the fans do.
“What’s been, for me really important, is that the players go away with loads of information in their backpacks and they can apply it in their day-to-day practice, their day-to-day life on a tennis court and think back to the Laver Cup that they learned something from the likes of John McEnroe or Bjorn Borg, or speaking to Rafa or me or Novak or Laver.”