It’s Team Europe In Laver Cup Redux Win

I’m not sure if I understand the scoring system of the Laver’s Cup. How can a team–Team World–have a chance to force a possible closing match of Nick Kyrgios vs. Novak Djokovic when coming into the penultimate match, Kevin Anderson vs. Alexander Zverev, when Team Europe had won every singles match (5) except one, the Anderson victory over Djokovic. As it played out, Anderson could not hold multiple mini-breaks in the final third set Super Breaker, and Team World won the event for the second year of its existence and second year in a row, when Zverev closed-out the South African.

What I like a lot about the Laver Cup is the excitement and true passion the event creates. Players from Kyrgios to Jack Sock to Roger Federer and coaches Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, are clearly pumped up by the matches taking place on the signature charcoal color court. I also like how doubles plays such a large role in the event and matchups like Federer and Djokovic get to play together. What I didn’t love about this year’s Laver Cup is you had players playing in the event who clearly didn’t belong to be among the best European or World team players: Frances Tiafoe, Jack Sock (singles), Nick Kyrgios, Kyle Edmund and even Diego Schwartzman. But that’s because more reputable and higher-ranked players like Juan-Martin Del Potro, Denis Shapovalov, Kei Nishikori, Rafael Nadal, Domenic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka all were either injured or decided not to play.

Last year in Prague and this year in Chicago, the Laver Cup seemed to be located in the exact right places. Federer, one of the founders of the event, again shined winning his two singles matches and adding a definite cool factor by being so amped on the European couch adjoining the court. It doesn’t get much better than to see Bjorn Borg bound on the court after Zverev closed out the European win, and practically jump on the young German as he laid sprawled on the court.

Tennis Channel did another great job of broadcasting the event, but how does Paul Annacone, the king of the wrong call, say that the three best forehands in the game are Nadal’s, Del Potro’s and Jack Sock’s? Excuse me, Jack Sock, who after his opening day loss to Edmund in the Laver Cup, currently sported a 4-17 singles record in 2018. How does a guy who will run around his backhand when it’s two feet outside of his backhand-side alley, have one of the three best forehands in the game, when he can’t hit that shot off his return of serve often because of his severe grip and can only really hit his forehand well when he’s going inside-out with it? Of course, it’s one of the reasons he’s the top doubles player in the world today because he can camp out in the ad-side corner.

All in all, I’m excited by the future of the Laver Cup, but the scoring system may have to be re-jiggered and it has to attract the best players I believe to continue to attract viewer’s attention and eyeballs.

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  • catherine · September 28, 2018 at 2:35 am

    Scoop – I doubt Tursonov would mind other coaches copying him – otherwise he surely wouldn’t have talked on such a public site.

    I can actually think of a couple of high profile coaches who could learn quite a bit from this interview. Could lift the level of the women’s game overall and that has to be good. And some who treat women’s tennis with ‘derision’ might revise their views.

    The USO is intriguing in the ‘what ifs’ –
    one thing I am sure of, Aryna would not have been as courteous as Naomi if she had been put in a similar situation. I mean, she would have made her feelings clear. She wouldn’t have the same attitude to Serena.

    Sabalenka may be a little inconsistent at this point – Tursonov mentions that, and we shouldn’t pile expectations on her. But she is exceptionally talented and seems dedicated to the game. (I remember seeing her beat Sloane Stephens in the Fed Cup last year and she impressed me then.)

  • catherine · September 28, 2018 at 2:54 am

    I liked this from Sabalenka: ‘I try not to worry on the court. See the ball, hit the ball.’

    Were you listening Angie ?
    (plus a few others I can think of)

  • Hartt · September 28, 2018 at 8:37 am

    I see that Sabalenka beat Barty in SS. I wish I could have seen the match because Barty is another player who has variety. But it was on at exactly the same time as Felix vs Tomic.

    Felix played a poor match and lost in SS. He never did find his game and had 8 DFs. Tomic just had to stay steady, which he did.

  • catherine · September 28, 2018 at 8:57 am

    I couldn’t find a live stream for Sabalenka/Barty so I had to miss it too – looked fairly straightforward.

    Kontaveit won over Wang retiring so the final could be good.

    Tomic seems to be doing a phoenix impression πŸ™‚ Not long ago he couldn’t win a set.

  • catherine · September 28, 2018 at 9:09 am

    First set was tight between Aryna and Ash but Sabalenka got her serve going, 9 aces and 84% of 1st serve points won and that finished it for Barty.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 28, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Shap is floundering and losing to Nishioka with MPs is another sign he must get rid of Laurendeau and find a replacement. I think Shap’s floundering could have an adverse effect on Felix too. Shap is the leader of the brother duo, as he flounders so too does Felix flounder, losing today to Tomic in SS. Very concerned about Shap’s progress or lackthereof. This kid looked like a Boris Becker Rafa Nadal teenage major champion winner at US Open last year. Now a year later he looks like a struggling journeyman.

  • Hartt · September 28, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Scoop, you will be glad to hear that Denis has added another coach to his team, although I doubt it is the type of coach you have in mind – Rob Steckley. He is working with Denis on a trial basis for the rest of the season, and was with his team during the Davis Cup and then in St. Petersburg and Shenzhen. So maybe you can blame his last two losses on Rob. There was no word on whether Laurendeau was returning.

    I don’t agree that Denis looks like a “struggling journeyman.” For goodness sake, he made the SF in Madrid on his worst surface, and is ranked No. 31 in live rankings, up 20 spots from his year-end ranking. He was never going to sustain that wild level of play he had last summer.

    And Nishioka is playing well, he has made the SFs in Shenzhen, so losing to him was not a catastrophe.

  • catherine · September 28, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Hartt – has Steckley split from Safarova again ? Or were they not full-time ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 28, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Hartt, I expected Shap to be top 20 by now and contending for majors and 1000s. He was that impressive last summer. He should not have regressed or stagnated. Let’s hope the overdue explosion comes soon. Nishioka has been up and down this year, some good some bad results, ranked around 171 still a long way from where he left off after the injury in Miami in March 2017. Can only imagine where Shap would be if he had Tursunov on his team.

  • Hartt · September 28, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Scoop, if only Tursunov could be cloned!

    I did not expect Denis to continue at his amazing level from last summer. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Outside of a couple good matches at Queen’s (and I am including his close loss to Berdy) and winning a Challenger, he hadn’t done anything special just prior to the Rogers Cup. And he was very close to losing in the first round there – he had to save several match points to get to the 2nd round.

    Then he had that magical run at Rogers Cup and the USO. But he had to play out of his skull to do that, and it was not sustainable. Denis is a very talented, ambitious young player. But he is not Nadal or Becker, and I don’t think it is realistic to expect him to be.

    A finish in the top 30 would be a very good result for his 2nd year on the tour, (which really only began at Queens last season). I think Shapo will win Slams, but that is for the future.

  • Hartt · September 28, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Catherine, I don’t think Safarova is playing any more tourneys this season, but I wonder if, after trying a 2nd time, her coaching relationship with Rob Steckley is over.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 28, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    Hartt, Tursunov will be imitated, for sure. Every astute coach will read that interview and save it and apply his principles. No doubt.

  • Hartt · September 28, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    For many of Tursunov’s principles to work, though, the players have to be receptive to trying new things. As we’ve seen with many players, they adopt a particular style of play and then don’t want to make any changes, even when things aren’t working as well for them.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 28, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Hartt, but the success of Sabalenka will inspire many players to try change, to try creativity, to try new things. To remain a limited player and ignoring the concept of innovations would be stupid. All these players are competitive and want to win, they are born and built to win matches. Tursunov has unlocked the door to a new school of thought.

  • catherine · September 28, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    Lots of coaches think they know best though, and persist with their own methods. It would take an exceptional coach to admit they learned anything from a rival. Even to themselves.

    Perhaps this is the reason some players change coaches so often. They are looking for something new but don’t know what it is. I wonder how many actually are taking in Tursonov’s commenmts ? Assuming their English reading skills are up to it.

  • catherine · September 28, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    Looks like we’re heading for occ at all tournaments in the near future.

    More dumbing down for tennis. This is a purely tv driven initiative and I can’t think of one good reason for it. And when the coaching isn’t in English, what’s the point ?

  • catherine · September 29, 2018 at 2:32 am

    From Beijing: Kvitova exits 6-2 6-1 to Gavrilova and should now go home for a long rest until next year. She is worn out.

    Barty withdraws – arm injury. Unlike some she didn’t use this as an excuse for losing to Sabalenka. She’s an Aussie after all.

    On the upside Petko has qualified and is now ranked 69 after falling to below 100.

  • Hartt · September 29, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Sabalenka won the Wuhan final over Kontaveit in SS. I only saw the last few games, but Sabalenka was serving very well, and also used some of the variety that Tursunov talked about. The commies often referred to Tursunov’s comments when describing the match.

  • catherine · September 29, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Hartt- I watched most of it live – did you catch the high loopy backhand followed by a winning volley ? Just like Tursunov taught her πŸ™‚

    Saba is now ranked 16.

    Everyone’s poring over that interview I bet. Except Cahill who thinks he knows everything.

  • catherine · September 29, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Hartt -My comment vanished so here it is again – I watched most of the match live – Aryna served very well and perhaps you caught that high loopy backhand and finishing volley – just the way Tursunov taught her πŸ™‚

    I expect a lot of people are poring over that interview. Except Cahill probably who thinks he knows everything.

    Aryna now ranked 16.

  • Hartt · September 29, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Reaching No. 16 is a terrific result. As is winning a Premier Mandatory. It looks like there could be a serious Osaka vs Sabalenka rivalry, which would be great for women’s tennis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 29, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Catherine, everybody loves and emulates a winner. Im sure 90% at least of the WTA read that interview with Tursunov and are following his principles from this point on. No doubt. Look how all the players copied Lendl and Navratilova’s fitness and diet regimes. Tursunov’s coaching is a gamechanger just like that.

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