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Laver Cup preview: Todd Woodbridge assesses the field

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The Laver Cup pits the titles of Team Europe against the power of Team World, says 22-time Grand Slam doubles champion Todd Woodbridge, and it could be one of the newcomers who provides the defining moment.

Team Europe

The defending Laver Cup champions are dominated by Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and the Grand Slam titles they have won. Two of the sports’ all-time greats, they headline the team, but there is quality throughout for captain Bjorn Borg to pick from.

Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov are two players who can see this week as an opportunity to play alongside Federer and Djokovic in a team environment, and take that experience with them into the majors. David Goffin is someone whose consistency, work ethic and temperament have made him one of the class players out there. He might not have the physical capacity or weaponry to go on and win a Slam, only time will tell, but outside of the majors he’s already such a contender every week.

And this is a big event for Kyle Edmund. It’s a great tournament for him to be involved in because it’s about feeling that you’re good enough to be at that level. He’s had some really good wins and reached a semifinal at the Australian Open, but he has to sustain that level of performance. The Laver Cup gives him that chance, and he may well be important in terms of an important point won at the right time.

What I look at with Team Europe is, where are the doubles combinations?

What I look at with Team Europe is, where are the doubles combinations? Is there a standout doubles star? Maybe Federer, potentially with Djokovic in the way he teamed up with Nadal in 2017. Last year the doubles were pivotal, particularly on the last day.

Newcomer to watch: Djokovic has his confidence back after a stunning return to form in winning Wimbledon and the US Open. He will come into this event as good as he’s been the last three years and I think he’s going to love this concept, and walk away from this week thinking it’s something uniquely different.

 

Team World

They are underdogs but the way they’re going to get their hands on the Laver Cup trophy for the first time is through team unity, and relying on captain John McEnroe to get the blend right.

There are explosive players in the lineup who can challenge anyone, especially indoors over this format. John Isner can blow anyone away, he’s so difficult to play against. He has the ability to change the weekend because he is capable of taking out a Federer or a Djokovic. He did just that at the Laver Cup last year when he beat Nadal in what turned out to be a defining match for the American.

Kevin Anderson has had such a great 12 months and this is a big stage for him now. He comes in as a two-time Grand Slam finalist and with a whole new level of expectation around him. I think he’s put the building blocks in place to be able to handle that, but it’s a big occasion for him. Is he the man you try to put up against Federer, as he beat him recently at Wimbledon?

Diego Schwartzman is a grinder and he brings mental and physical attributes, it’s whether he has enough time in this format to wear his opponents down. Jack Sock has not had the best year in singles but he comes in as Wimbledon champion again in doubles.

And Nick Kyrgios is the one who can set the whole team on fire with his energy and passion for this tournament. Team World has two big doubles options that could bring them points in Sock and Kyrgios, plus Sock and Isner.

If Team World are going to win, I think Schwartzman is the one who needs to sneak a point early.

Newcomer to watch: If Team World are going to win, I think Schwartzman is the one who needs to sneak a point early. A lot will rest on the Argentine’s shoulders, but I think he’ll be fearless and he’s going to want to make an impact.

Nick Kyrgios is the one who can set the whole team on fire with his energy and passion for this tournament. Photo: Ben Solomon
Nick Kyrgios is the one who can set the whole team on fire with his energy and passion for this tournament. Photo: Ben Solomon

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