Laver Cup SmashTalk: Team World or Team Europe?

Published by Tennismash

(L-R) Novak Djokovic, Rod Laver, John McEnroe and Juan Martin del Potro at the Laver Cup team announcement in New York; Getty Images
The second edition of the Laver Cup is one month away and the teams have been unveiled. So will Team World or Team Europe rule in Chicago?

The full line-ups for Team World and Team Europe were announced on Tuesday ahead of next month’s Laver Cup, with Jack Sock and Kyle Edmund named as the final players in the six-man teams.

Sock joins compatriot John Isner, Argentines Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson and Aussie Nick Kyrgios on Team World,.

Edmund lines up alongside Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin for Team Europe.

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The event, after debuting in Prague last year, is set for 21-23 September at Chicago’s United Center, a venue with a capacity of more than 20,000.

Tennismash’s editorial team of Piers Newbery, Matt Trollope and Leigh Rogers give their thoughts on how the second edition of the Cup might unfold.

What strikes you most about the line-ups?

Piers: It’s hard to look past – or above – the sheer size of Team World, and the barrage of big serving they will be able to send down, while Team Europe have the perfect foil with arguably the best returner ever joining their ranks in the form of Novak Djokovic. It will be fascinating to see the match-ups and how captains McEnroe and Borg work their selections. It might just be that a standout performance from Diego Schwartzman or David Goffin could swing the whole tie.

Matt: I would say the even spread of talent throughout the teams. Not to say there wasn’t talent on both teams last year, but in Prague, Team Europe was definitely weighted more heavily – they had five top-10 players while Team World didn’t have any. This year, Team World has two top-five players in Del Potro and Anderson, as well as four of the top 15. It’s a much better balance.

Leigh: The addition of Novak Djokovic is a great coup for Team Europe and it will be fascinating to see him play alongside long-time rival Roger Federer for the first time. The most striking fact about Team World is the extreme height of their players. Diego Schwartzman, who is 21 centimetres shorter than his next closest team-mate, is the glaring exception.

With the inaugural Laver Cup in Prague a big success, what are you looking forward to seeing in the second edition in Chicago?

Piers: The interaction between the players both on court and off was what felt groundbreaking about Laver Cup ‘1.0’, and new teams provide new opportunities for relationships to blossom – and cheerleading routines to go viral. One thing Federer was keen to see build in Laver Cup ‘2.0’ was the partisan nature of the crowd, so will the Chicago crowd get fully behind ‘their’ team in red, or will the star power of Federer himself mean a more even split of loyalties?

Matt: The crackling atmosphere. The Czechs supported the event strongly in 2017, packing out Prague Arena to mark a memorable debut. Chicago’s United Center is almost 10,000 seats bigger again – and the word is that it’s close to sold out. If that’s the case, it will be electrifying.

Leigh: The passion demonstrated in Prague proved this is more than an exhibition event, so I’m excited to see who steps up and thrives in the high-pressure team environment in Chicago. Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson add maturity to the Team World line-up, so whether this impacts the entertaining team dynamic that fans loved during the inaugural event will also be interesting. The camaraderie between team-mates is what helps make the Laver Cup so unique, so I hope not.

Will Team Europe or Team World win in 2018? And why?

Piers: I think Team World have a great chance with this line-up – it will be tough to repeatedly knock over some of the biggest servers in the game in a potentially quick, indoor scenario, and any of those big guys alongside Jack Sock will be formidable in doubles. However, I still back the singles ability of Federer and Djokovic to rack up four wins and that could take Team Europe close enough to finish the job.

Matt: It’s really hard to call, but I’d say the that across the board, members of Team Europe are currently in slightly better form. Plus, you’ve got the world’s two best indoor players in Federer and Djokovic and perhaps the most consistent member of the top five in Zverev. They’ll be hard to beat – even away from home.

Leigh: Team World – based purely on their versatility in doubles options. Juan Martin del Potro adds valuable firepower to their singles line-up, but it is the doubles prowess of Jack Sock and John Isner that could prove most pivotal to gaining an important edge over their Team Europe rivals.

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