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Breaking the boundaries: Laver Cup embraces innovation

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Proudly honoring tradition while boldly embracing innovation, the boundaries of tennis as we know it have been dramatically pushed at the Laver Cup. Let us count the ways:

Black court How to weave elegance and sophistication into the innovation brief? Let’s start with the stunning black court. The centerpiece to the Laver Cup is the largest-ever Haro Court ever produced. California Sports Surfaces worked on the cutting-edge surface for more than five months, engaging chemists to achieve the blackest black possible for maximum depth. It was created as a jigsaw puzzle, pre-painted and pieced together on site.

 

Captain’s reveal Suspense was enhanced each day with the captain’s reveal. On the eve of the Laver Cup, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe each presented their lineups in a blind exchange, creating such fascinating match-ups as the one between Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev. Days two and three saw one captain submit his card blind – McEnroe on Saturday, Borg on Sunday – to review before selecting his players for the day.

Points system Not all wins were created equal. Each match win on day one was worth a single point, the value rose to two for day two, and by day three, the value of a win had risen to three. ‘Luck of the draw’ no longer existed and the captains’ strategy became as critical as their players’ skill.

Super tiebreaks If scores were level at one set apiece, the super tiebreak kicked in. The race to become the first player to amass 10 points created dramatic momentum swings and exciting ends. “This is a format that helps the underdog. Best-of-three sets with only a tiebreaker in the third set,” said Team World captain John McEnroe. “Because of that it makes it more exciting.”

There was also the potential of a dramatic decider in another sense. The first team to reach 13 points is crowned the winner at the Laver Cup, with a thrilling doubles decider if the points are tied at 12-all.

The umpire’s chair To measure the level of attention to detail, look to the umpire’s chair. Rising above the black court with stunning authority, it replicates the shape of the Laver Cup – itself a work of art that incorporates a molten section of an early trophy won by the legendary Rod Laver himself.

The umpire's chair was crafted to mirror the Laver Cup trophy. Credit: Ben Solomon/Laver Cup
The umpire’s chair was crafted to mirror the Laver Cup trophy. Credit: Ben Solomon/Laver Cup

 An unprecedented view While netcam – a tiny camera on the net – provided an unprecedented panorama of the court, rail cam added the player perspective from the side of the court. Locker room cam gave more access to player and a behind-the-scenes view. A Jumbotron cube with audio-visual effects also allowed spectators to watch dramatic moments and capture the smallest details of a match.

 Coach cam The influence of such qualified captains in Borg and McEnroe was already intriguing; it grew immeasurably as teammates stepped up to coach. While that helped competitors, the state-of-the-art broadcasting provided viewers with an exciting inside view. We saw it as Roger Federer dispensed advice on day one to an under-pressure Zverev. “What are we thinking?” offered the Swiss, all reassurance and calm. “I think you’re doing a great job on the return of serve.”

Rafael Nadal lends his advice during Dominic Thiem's match on the opening day against John Isner.
Rafael Nadal lends his advice during Dominic Thiem’s match on the opening day against John Isner.

 Celebrity influence As the world sporting focused on the tennis legends competing in Prague, other iconic figures also appeared. Among them was iconic Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who conducted the pre-match coin toss ahead of the day two doubles match featuring Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Fashion maven Anna Wintour tossed the coin at the historic men's doubles match on Saturday night.
Fashion maven Anna Wintour tossed the coin at the historic men’s doubles match on Saturday night.

 Dream combinations Generations of tennis legends gloriously overlapped to honor Rod Laver and prolific modern day champions also teamed for the first time. Federer and Nadal – or #FedalUtd  – was most anticipated and even the world No.1 and No.2 noted the significance of putting their rivalry to one side. “After being rivals for so many years, to be in the same part of the court fighting for a team is something special,” said Nadal.

Unique camera angles gave spectators a new perspective on tennis.
Unique camera angles gave spectators a new perspective on tennis.

Best-ever view The introduction of digital LED screens, offered unprecedented entertainment and exclusive viewing content. The value for fans was also enhanced by a spectacular light show that launched every session with dramatic effect.

Augmented reality: The state-of-the-art Laver Cup broadcast  was elevated by a sleuth of augmented reality graphics across three different cameras, as well as a brand new custom designed scoring graphics package provided by Girraphic. In a world first, New Win Predictor stats developed by Game Insight Group also featured as Augmented Reality on the net and court surface before each singles match.

A special trophy The Laver Cup, carefully handcrafted to celebrate Rod Laver’s unrivaled achievements, is like no other in the history of tennis. Its rocket shape reflects Laver’s nickname, with curved arms coming together to represent rivals becoming teammates. The two sets of four rings on the sterling silver creation base signify the Australian’s calendar year Grand Slams, whiles 200 notches on the rim are the same number of titles that Laver won throughout his legendary career.

Rod Laver views the Laver Cup Trophy during the opening ceremony.

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