Sound Bites: Top 10 Quotes From Laver Cup 2023
LaverCup.com looks back on a Team Europe vs. Team World showdown unlike any other in the words of those who made it all happen. A quotebook:
“It’s the best week of the year. — Bjorn Borg
Now in his sixth year as captain, the Ice Man remains a calming yet formidable presence on the Team Europe bench. Though his players weren’t yet born when, with Fila duds and Donnay racquet, he was going back-to-back at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the late ‘70s, they’re continuously in awe of his Hall of Fame presence. “It’s special feeling. It’s just an honor to know him,” said the Swede’s team leader, sixth-ranked Andrey Rublev.
“It’s not too hard to just fast-walk in a straight line.” — Taylor Fritz
His teammates gave him plenty of grief for his stint on the catwalk following the US Open. But Taylor Fritz, who strutted his runway stuff for Hermes in New York, took it all, as they say, in stride. “I have been ripping him. Not really. Honestly, I have been showing him love,” said Frances Tiafioe, who’s done some posing of his own. “He actually looked good. He usually doesn’t walk that fast. I mean, the outfit was great. I’ve got to give credit where it’s due. I just need a Hermes suit whenever he’s ready.”
“I love the type of pressure of playing for a team. It’s in the back of your head; you don’t want to let them down. The win is so much greater when you get to do it for them.” — Ben Shelton
If anyone’s cut out for the Laver Cup format, it’s sensation-in-the-making Ben Shelton, who cut his teeth in the sport at the University of Florida, where he played under father/former ATP pro Bryan Shelton and won both the NCAA singles and team titles. On the heels of his first major semifinal at the 2023 US Open, the 20-year-old brought an infectious energy to Team World. Said Vice-Captain Patrick McEnroe, “He’s sort of built for this type of environment. He feeds off the team. I think the team really feeds off him. He gives you a lot of energy when he’s out there. As someone who is part of the team, you respond to that as well.”
“When I got to my hotel room and put my jacket on, immediately wearing the blue colors, it’s a great feeling. Playing for Team Europe is special.” — Casper Ruud
Norway’s greatest-ever player, a two-time Grand Slam finalist in 2022, came to Vancouver in search of some form after a disappointing second-round loss in Flushing Meadows. After a trip home and some racquet-and-string tweaking, the world No. 9 rediscovered his game, breaking up a Team World shutout on Day 2 with a 7-6(6), 6-2 defeat of American Tommy Paul. “I think it’s nice to have your typical opponents be teammates for once,” he said. “You kind of connect or create a connection or a bond that you can kind of use for the rest of the year.”
“His passion and energy, his joie de vivre for the game. That’s one of the things that I believe separates Felix from most other players.” — John McEnroe
One of the tour’s most explosive talents since he turned pro in 2017, FAA delighted in playing on his home turf in Vancouver. The top-ranked Canadian at No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, he summoned the loudest applause of the three-day showdown, especially after his Day 2 dismissal of French vet Gael Monfils. “To do it with the crowd with us and supporting us, and for me especially as a Canadian, it feels good,” he said. In a year that saw him fall in the opening round at three of the four majors, the Laver Cup is just the reset Auger-Aliassime needed. Ben Shelton perhaps put it best after their doubles defeat of Monfils and Hubert Hurkacz: “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’.”
“To have Canadian tennis be at the place where it’s considered for these kinds of events is a massive tribute to how far Canadian tennis has come, the exposure of tennis in Canada, and the passion for it.” — Milos Raonic
We hadn’t seen an ATP/ITF event in Vancouver since Canada’s Milos Raonic-led Davis Cup contingent topped visiting Spain, 3-2, at the Thunderbird Sports Centre in 2013. The 19,000-seat Rogers Center, home to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, proved an ideal host for the annual Europe-versus-World extravaganza. “The last few years, there’s been kind of a buzz about Canadian tennis overall, and I think it’s nice to bring this kind of event here, to have all these great players play in Vancouver and also encourage kids,” said Felix Auger-Aliassime.
“I don’t understand anything that guy says.” — Francisco Cerundolo
The Argentine was referring to teammate Frances Tiafoe, who’s never been afraid to lighten the mood in the locker room or on the court. Asked by doubles legend/commentator Todd Woodbridge what his role was with Team World in 2023, the American deadpanned: “I think I’m playing a discipline factor for everybody. You know, having everybody just come in and just do the right thing, get the proper rest, be a true professional. That’s what I bring to this team.” It’s safe to say that tongue was most definitely in cheek.
“He’s like my uncle.” — Arthur Fils
At 19 nearly half Gael Monfils’ age, Arthur Fils said it was “like a dream” to play with his veteran countryman. “I’ve known him for a long time,” said Monfils, who assumed the role of mentor. “We’ve been chatting, even before he cracked the Top 100 and before he won his first title. I always told him, ‘Feel free to call me.’ He’s from France, so I want to protect him.”
“You hopefully have the right feel for knowing when to say something, when it’s needed. That’s the million-dollar question, in a way, knowing when to say something that you hope will make a positive difference. That’s what I try to do.” — John McEnroe on his role as Team World Captain
To hear his players praise his leadership, you just know the onetime Super Brat is pushing all the right buttons, as respected a figure as there is in the game. It’s always tricky working with world-class athletes who are either traveling with full-time coaches are in communication with them on a day-to-day basis; You have to know when to step in, and when to let it be. Leave it to the seven-time major singles titlist to find that ideal balance.
“When Roger is in the stands, it’s extra special. You want to deliver.” — Casper Ruud
He may be in retirement, but 20-time major singles titlist Roger Federer was still an everyday presence at Laver Cup 2023, delighting fans each time his visage appeared on the Jumbotron. Chatting on court with Jim Courier on Friday night, the Swiss reflected on his tearful farewell a year ago. “It’s great to be back at the Laver Cup one year later and if I look back at the memories, I thought the farewell was beautiful, it was perfect, it was emotional, there was proper suffering going on throughout my talk with you,” he said. “I was always dreading the moment for years. I was just worried my end was somehow going to be not nice, and it was the opposite — it was great. I felt really good about it and very happy, something I was very lucky to experience.”