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The Laver Cup, the legacy that Federer wants to bequeath to tennis

After a memorable goodbye night where the torrents of tears shed in the O2 Arena almost caused the neighboring Thames to overflow, Roger Federer’s admirers woke up with a hangover on Saturday, September 24, the first day of the rest of his retirement life.

For Gérard Piqué too, the night must have been short. These images of the great tennis family moved in unison to celebrate in London during the Laver Cup the Swiss farewell to the professional circuit must have haunted the FC Barcelona defender and conductor of the Davis Cup since 2019. Difficult , in fact, to make a more striking contrast between the sadly empty rooms, in mid-September, during the meetings of the group stages of the Davis Cup relifted Pique version and the jubilant London room on Friday.

Read also: In tears, Roger Federer bid farewell to tennis in London

The Laver Cup, created by Federer and his agent Tony Godsick, assumes a source of inspiration, the Ryder Cup of golf. In its tennis version, the best European players challenge not only the Americans, but “the rest of the world”. So far, the event succeeds where the traditional Davis Cup itself has long prospered: welcoming, if not all the best players, at least enough headliners (with generous financial guarantees kept secret) , and, like this weekend in London, be sold out.

Test in the middle of the ford

Admittedly, the event launched in 2017 by Federer itself partly contributed to the “brain death” of his venerable elder. But the Laver Cup is still in the middle of the ford: the event is recognized by the ATP, which has included it in its calendar since its 3e edition in 2019, but it does not (yet?) distribute points, bringing it back de facto to exhibition status. Beyond this 2022 edition, where Federer’s retirement has completely relegated competition to the background, its sporting importance therefore remains to be proven.

The future will tell if this meeting, supported by the gleaming sponsors of Switzerland, will survive him. As long as the best players are in the game, the format has this ability to generate telegenic snapshots and shots with high viral potential. The decor is polished, almost labeled: a court in anthracite cement on a black background, a room plunged into darkness, large raised sofas where the prestigious teammates gather.

Concerned about the legacy he will leave, the former boss of the circuit conceived the Laver Cup as a competition linking generations and legends of the sport, from the glorious Australian who gave his name to the event – ​​still present this weekend in London, at 84 – to the “Big 4” (Ferderer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray) via captains and former rivals John McEnroe and Björn Borg.

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