Sep/19

21

Change The Laver Cup Format

This Europe vs the World just doesn’t work. Who really cares about bragging rights for Europe vs World? There is no historic rivalry there, it’s just a convenient set up for a star exhibition.

A more intriguing format would be the OLD GEN legends vs. the NEXT GEN aspirants.

The big question in the sport now – and it has been for years – is when will the young guns finally figure out how to dethrone the dominant kings?

Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Del Potro and Stan would be the “Kings” while Felix, Shapovalov, Zverev, Thiem, Kyrgios and Tsitsipas would be the “Princes.”

The Laver Cup could then become a measuring stick each year to see how much closer (or further) the young guns can manage to upset the balance of power from the older generation to the new.

It could be a very successful event which gives the public a fascinating perspective of the most compelling and important rivalry in tennis today.

Maybe the WTA could also get into the act with a similar set up. Maria, Serena, Kerber, Wozniacki, Halep, Venus vs Anisimov, Gauff, Mcnally, Osaka, Andreescu.

Just Serena and Maria playing doubles together would make the event a guaranteed success.

178 comments

  • Hartt · September 23, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Poor Milos was probably desperate to play some matches. I was relieved he got through those 3 days without getting injured.

    I happen to be listening to an old Behind the Baseline podcast with FAA done last spring. He was ranked No.33 at the time and needed a WC to play Madrid. After the interview Wertheim talked about how impressed with FΓ©lix, especially how mature he was. He said FAA reminded him of what Federer was like as a young player.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    But Raonic did not see close up what young Federer was like as Raonic did not hit the pro scene until after Federer already had won 16 majors. Still it’s a nice compliment, very very high praise, the highest a young player could get.

  • Hartt · September 23, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Scoop, it was Jon Wertheim who made the comparison between FAA and Fed, and of course Wertheim did know the young Fed.

    Anyway, I came to post a tweet by Quebec actor Dany Turcotte. He wrote, “Bianca Andreescu. In one tennis game you’ve given us more emotion than any seven Canadian hockey teams have given us in the past 25 years.” Talk about pressure! That is quite the statement in this hockey-mad country. πŸ™‚

  • Hartt · September 23, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    I like Sascha, so I hope this experience helps him for the rest of the season. Maybe he should have a copy of what Fed and Rafa said to him, and play it before every match.

  • Jeff · September 23, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    I think what is also interesting about Fed and Nadal told Zverev is what didn’t happen: the World team couldn’t fire Milos up.

    As Andrew said, brilliant coaching by those two to gwt Zverev to get the crowd behind him.

    Conversely, who told Milos anything? McEnroe? Isner? Kyrgios? It’s clear that not only is world full of lesser tennis players but worse leaders as well. That was the difference in that tiebreaker – that McEnroe and his bunch are losers when all is said and done.

  • Jeff · September 23, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    One nice aspect of the Laver Cup is that the champions like Federer and Nadal win it and losers like Kyrgios and Raonic come up short. It reminds me of the Globetrotters against the Generals.

    They should ensure that Europe wins every time since a team that features Kyrgios and Sock should always be second best. It is so fitting.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Jeff, it also reminds me of WWF, everything just works out perfectly for the event and the fans. It’s hard to believe the event will ever have one team winning 5-0 in matches, it always seems to work out perfectly 1-1, 2-2, to keep the fans interested. WHo knows, it could be possible one team plays soft when it’s winning in the first two days. Just out of curiosity, is there betting on the matches? What is the payout for each winning player and losing player, is it winner take all? After appearance fees?

  • Andrew Miller · September 23, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Sometimes, it’s enough. Raonic shouldn’t feel crushed, but he was outplayed and outcoached after evening things up, and he should pay attention to that. He had already learned this lesson before, so it’s surprising he was so subdued. I feel marginally sorry for him. At the same time, I don’t know if Zverev is aware that the pep talk from the two champs, basically bullying him to play better, was what shoved him from a mile behind the baseline to some more aggressive tennis.

    On the tactics side I don’t know why Raonic went for the low risk slices. But it’s a tactic and Nadal uses it well too, just that I’m not sure that’s Milos best bet to close out a guy he had on the ropes.

    Anyways it’s hard to come back and win. We all know Federer is a great front runner but not the best at the good old comeback. Del Potro US Open win was memorable here because he kept hitting the ball unbelievably hard in the fifth set after coming back from two sets down versus Federer in 2009.

    Tough feat. I worry about players after evening the score who take just a little off their game and then get run over. It’s a tactic also, because the opponent knows that the player spent a lot of energy and emotional energy to even things up, and it’s devastating to then be down, the player rips themselves apart.

  • Andrew Miller · September 23, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Kenin beat Pavs. Disclaimer: not a fan of the Kenin game, but it works really well. She’s a smart player. She has shown she can step up her level. Very good stuff.

    Hope she gets a little faster though, her foot speed is a step slow and she makes up for it with excellent strategy. She makes her opponent hit from places that aren’t uncomfortable, and that’s a good way to play.

    Sure that’s tennis. Still: some players like Nadal want your legs to fall off, then vanquish the opponent, then of course dust them off and give them a lollipop. Kenin’s game is more deft placement as a way to yank the opponent out of position, then put the ball where they aren’t. A little more classic tennis.

    Evert? No where near Evert level, but maybe some Evert in her game.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Raonic showed more fire in other tournaments, especially majors, he will scream and yell and fist pump and yell come on. But in Laver Cup he didn’t seem to care a whole lot. Nor did his teammates when he had the chance to be the hero. Fed and Rafa wanted it more. At least on the surface that’s the way it looked.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    Kenin has an uncanny talent for winning matches. Not very impressive physically but she gets it done.

  • Jeff · September 23, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    Scoop, the wrestling comparison is pretty good. Fans come for the show and they love being entertained. I definitely think Kyrgios is terrific in events like this; he makes a good foil to lose to the greats.

    I don’t think Godsick is sharing details about the fees so who knows. My guess is outside of Rafa and Roger, Kyrgios has the highest fee if he is smart. The event is tailored for him and for him to lose to Roger like he has every year. The fans love seeing that happen.

    Johnny Mac should never step down since his antics are a great foil to the coolness of Borg, who says and does nothing. You have the camaraderie and talent of Europe and the power and arrogance of the World team. It really is tennis at its most entertaining.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    That may be Borg. Or a clone or robot.

  • jackson · September 24, 2019 at 1:03 am

    Jeff, word on the street is that the players were paid by their rankings and that the pay is generous which is why so many of them are happy to play. Somewhere in one of his mouth-running episodes Kyrgios said he got paid $750,000 last year. Don’t know what he would have gotten this year because his ranking hasn’t gone up.

    It’s been said Rafa and Roger each got a $2 million appearance fee. Each member of the winning team gets $250,000 which is more than they’d get winning a 250 tournament, plus they get the thrill of playing in front of 18,000 crazy loud fans which very seldom happens anywhere else for them.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 24, 2019 at 9:01 am

    The Laver Cup is a money machine. Wertheim said on twitter that LC loses money. Not buying that propaganda.

  • Andrew Miller · September 24, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Scoop, it’s Kenin’s Babolat. It’s the next best thing to the golden touch. Every player that makes the switch away from Babolat sees a ranking tank πŸ˜‰ Just kidding but not really!

  • Jon King · September 24, 2019 at 11:04 am

    We first saw Kenin at 5 years old working with Rick Macci. Same focus she has now, she would repeat the stroke Rick told her “up, drop, hit” over and over. Then her dad would take over and they would drill for hours and hours. She was never the best athlete but her mental focus and cut throat desire to win has been around since she was a little kid.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 24, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Kenin has been touted since the age of 5, I remember the photographer Art Seitz hailing her since she was around 5, 6, 7 and she has fulfilled his prophecy. Obviously Kenin is a player role model for kids to emulate her example.

  • Hartt · September 24, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Andrew, you have discovered the reason Bouchard’s career went downhill – she switched from Babolat to Yonex!

  • Andrew Miller · September 24, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Hartt, I suspected as much πŸ˜‰ In all seriousness I think once players get used to it they can make it or any racquet work wonders (Wozniacki, Wawrinka). But it’s a big switch from what I’ve seen!

  • Andrew Miller · September 24, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Final remark on Nadal, Federer coaching, an excerpt from an article on si.com by Daniel Rapoport: “Hearing Federer and Nadal – combined Grand Slam titles 39 – give passionate and intelligent advice has been a fascinating glimpse into just how much thinking and strategizing goes into both of their games. Due to the nature of normal events, where coaching isn’t allowed, these pep talks take place in their own minds.”

    So true. As they are competing we have no idea what’s they are thinking. But put a nic on them at Laver Cup and it’s a whole new world.

    I’d only do this at events like Laver Cup. But it is quite revealing. They aren’t normal competitors.

  • Andrew Miller · September 24, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Nice Koepfer piece up on Tennis.com. his US Open run was no fluke, Koepfer had been playing well for a while.

  • Andrew Miller · September 24, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Catherine called it, Puig d. Kerber. If this doesn’t shock Kerber into changing things up… apparently an outstanding match until the third set. Puig squandered match points in the second. Match was almost three hours. Another example of a lot of effort to tie things up, only to take a little off the pedal.

    Kerber should be happy for the effort but the third set scoreline is bad. Sounds like she gave up after putting it all together.

  • Andrew Miller · September 24, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    re Kenin, my favorite part of her game is the cap/visor. She pulls it down so far you can’t often see her expressions. I remember once a more famous player did this after a loss, they hit the press room and pulled the cap so far down no one could tell unless they listened to her voice how incredibly upset she was.

    My favorite part of the Konta game is the return of Ellese πŸ™‚

  • catherine · September 24, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Andrew – I talked about the Kerber match on a newer thread – this one’s too long now – I lose track. The WTA really puffed this match but it wasn’t that outstanding – some good bits and then stretches where you know you’d just seen it before and then by the third set you could see the degringolade (no accent, sorry) coming. Angie’s done this so often before – I wouldn’t say she gave up but there was nothing left there. I thought she might win in two but she lost the chance. Puig played well, although she lost to Riske next round, which might have been Angie’s fate.

    Angie won’t (can’t ?) try anything new – not like Petra s/volleying a tiebreak point and winning it. I wish she’d get a coach. All the fight in the world won’t win her matches when her playing patterns are so predictable.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 24, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    There’s a real smoothness to Kenin’s strokes, she’s feisty but her form flows with elegance. Not mechanical or stiff. Very nice technique.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 24, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Kerber probably shut it down for the year, just going through the motions now. No real reason to play now. Better to shut it down and just train and focus on AO and 20.

  • Jon King · September 24, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Scoop, the Kenin technique came from Rick Macci. She was his student model for 2 USTA coaching videos when she was 5 and 6 years old. The videos went through all the strokes and she had the attention span to follow instructions perfectly. You can literally look at those videos and her forehand, backhand, and serve looks identical as to when she was 5-6.

    Years later, I used those videos as a template when I got my daughter started in tennis.

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