Tennis legends Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer stunned the tennis world by announcing that they will be shutting shop for rest of the year, due to respective injuries.
On one hand, the Spaniard is suffering from a perennial foot injury, which has been bothering him since 2005. Elsewhere, the Swiss maestro declared that he will be undergoing yet another surgery, to treat his wobbly knee.
While it is a given that both players will return in 2022, there is no official verdict on when and where they will make their comeback. Sure the ATP tour is going to feel the void of both player. But perhaps, it is the Laver Cup that is going to suffer the most, in the absence of the 20-time Grand Slam champions.
To make matters worse, Serbia’s superstar Novak Djokovic too has opted out of the event. Given his relentless schedule, he is unlikely to reconsider his call.
The 2021 edition of the Laver Cup is about go get underway from 24-26 September in Boston, USA. To state the truth, the whole inception of the tournament was Federer’s thought process. In fact, it won’t be an overstatement to say that the former World No.1 Federer has been the main face of the Laver Cup, along with legends John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg.
Ever since its emergence onto the tennis calendar in 2017, the Laver Cup has been lucky to enjoy the services of World’s best players. Legends Nadal and current World No.1 Djokovic too have been a part of the prestigious tournament before.
That said, this will be the first time that the competition will be played without the big-three and that could be a matter of concern for the nascent product.
Considering the uncertain times we live in, welcoming of the fans at the stadiums is already a grey area. Although the Laver Cup is expected to see crowds coming in, one wonders whether the absence of the big-three will further dissuade tennis fans from the facility. While leading players in Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and American players will be featuring in the tournament, one cannot ignore the fact that the big-three’s presence would have helped in filling up the seats significantly. It remains to be seen how organisers tackle the challenging situation. A bummer cannot be ruled out!
The other task for the Laver Cup is to create a euphoria around the existing players. While the stake owners might will keep emphasising on how serious the competition is, the fans will always be sceptical. Over the years, tournament has often been criticized for resembling an exhibition event. With scathing allegations and remarks already staring, it is tough to see adequate television time given by the fans for the 2021 edition. Don’t be surprised by the fall in ratings. The broadcasters might feel the adverse effects of the vacuum left by the big-three.
With the long existence of the Davis Cup and the latest introduction of the ATP Cup, it is difficult to fathom the Laver Cup creating a niche in an already cramped tennis calendar. While the likes of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic might return for the 2022 edition in London, one wonders what the future holds. Going forward, the big-three’s retirement is inevitable. While they might stay connected with the brand in some capacity, the next generation of players might struggle to hold the ship together.
Already the Laver Cup, which is into its fourth edition is struggling to connect with the fans, even on a recreational level. It is purely on the big-three’s adulation that the product is managing to stay afloat. Moreover, the sponsors too will vanish once the big-guns bid adieu to the game.
As we wait for the future to decide the fate of the Laver Cup, the upcoming edition will reveal a lot more than it will hide.