As Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal passionately embraced at the denouement of the inaugural, Rod Laver Cup, the competition was hailed as an undeniably revolutionary success. A Ryder Cup style format pitted the sport’s finest, from Team Europe vs Team World, in twelve matches over a three-day period.
The injection of camaraderie, patriotism and personality was one tennis so desperately craved and only evidenced how it urgently needs to be galvanised with a sense of the 21st Century spectacular.
— Laver Cup (@LaverCup) September 24, 2017
The Davis Cup, tennis’ premier international competition, is undeniably diminishing. Beleaguered by an uncompromising schedule and the victim of a near plague-like avoidance by the ‘Big Four’, it’s continuously grappled, with waning might, to maintain interest.
Yet, the glamorous and audacious Laver Cup, instantly exhibited how an unashamedly glitzy and boisterous spectacle captivates the public, brings in new fans and returns the sport into the spotlight. It’s the archetypal extravaganza that the public crave in contrast to tennis’ usually stale traditionalist adherence.
The event was an indulgent celebration of illustrious names, headed by the alluring totems of John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, as the personable team captains. It featured thrilling matches, endearing companionship, ceaseless competitiveness and endlessly intertwining story-lines. Four of the world’s top five were on display but the Laver Cup was undoubtedly spearheaded and embodied by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. They have enchanted in breathtaking battles on the court, yet the pair temporarily lowered their swords to join forces in an awe-striking display.
From the mesmerising minds exchanging tactics to Nadal inconceivably leaping into Federer’s arms after the latter’s momentous victory over Nick Kyrgios, it was a quintessential spectacle, which ignited players and fans alike.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 27, 2017
The players lauded the event as a joyous experience, fans flocked to the O2 arena in Prague, and the world’s eyes looked on with an entranced gaze. The often distant and untouchable aura of the world’s greatest players was vanquished as fans revelled in their uninhibited joviality, charisma and playfulness, all while still parading their typically uncompromising competitiveness.
For tennis’ governing bodies, perhaps the event will finally see them acknowledge the stagnant period, which has befallen the sport in recent years. Big events have seen a decline in attendance, less children are taking up the sport and in the US, tennis’ appeal has perished like wildfire.
The sport’s in grave need of rejuvenation and reinvigoration, and the Laver Cup has provided just that. The event may not have provoked the same patriotic pride of the pre-eminent Davis Cup, but it’s ritzy vibrancy and innovation decidedly appealed, to both the players and fans. Nadal hailed it an “unforgettable” experience and for those looking to recapture the public’s passion for tennis, that’s exactly what it should be.
Let go of the imposing traditions, which restrain it’s appeal, and deliver the awe-inspiring spectacular 21st century events, which the public thrive on.