Is tennis royalty gathering for ‘slaughter’?
ON paper the Laver Cup is a no contest.
Team Europe might be missing world No.1 Novak Djokovic, but with a line-up comprising Rafael Nadal (2), Roger Federer (3), Dominic Thiem (5), Alexander Zverev (6), Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) and Fabio Fognini (11) all six members are still ranked higher than Team World's leading man.
John Isner (20) is backed up by Milos Raonic (24), Nick Kyrgios (27), Taylor Fritz (30), Denis Shapovalov (33) and doubles specialist Jack Sock (singles ranking: 210), showing where the power base of men's tennis lies in 2019.
I thought #LaverCup was a great idea. But now, on year three, it’s lost its luster a bit. Team World’s best player is #20 John Isner, while Team Europe’s lowest player, Fognini, is #11. It’s going to be an unentertaining slaughter.— Allen McDuffee (@AllenMcDuffee) September 18, 2019
But Federer, who has championed the competition which will be played in Geneva from Friday to Sunday, argued conditions would favour his opposition.
"We have incredible depth," he said.
"Problem is we're indoors, best-of-three, super tie-breaker in the third - and we're playing against big servers who all like the indoors and have a big forehand.
"So there you have it, as much as we're the favourites, I do think it's going to be really tight. They're really good in doubles - obviously Jack (Sock) is one of the world's best doubles players, if not the absolute best - so we know how hard it's going to be."
Team Europe has won the first two editions of a tournament intended to be the Ryder Cup of the tennis world and it seems unlikely that trend will be reversed this year.
But for now, we can at least enjoy these photographs.