Why Raonic needed to beat Zverev in Laver Cup
We love the Laver Cup, we think it is a fabulous idea. To see a team of players competing for a common goal is something you rarely see in tennis. You have the Davis/Fed Cups, but they are split across the whole year, which loses some of its appeal. With those sort of competitions, you sometimes end up with players ranked 100+ in the world, who you may never have really heard of, competing against each other. The Laver Cup rams the whole competition into 3 days, and features some of the best players in the world, such as 5 out of the current top 10 playing this year. It also provides a real insight into the players mentality, such as with Nadal and Federer giving Fognini some tips with his match against Jack Sock. As a young tennis player, there is nothing better than that to help you develop.
As great as the Laver Cup is, we have always agreed that it has 1 fundamental flaw, Team World are always the underdog. This year they came very close, with it all coming down to the final match between Zverev and Raonic, with Zverev clinching it to take the trophy to Team Europe. If Team World had managed to win, it would have made the future events much more exciting, but at the moment, it seems that Team Europe will continue to dominate. Why is this? Because the majority of the top players in the world are from Europe.
Team Europe have only had 4 of the 18 players that have competed, be ranked outside the top 10 during the competition, with the lowest rank being Berydch in 2017 at 19. on the other hand, Team World have only had 2 players ranked IN the top 10 during the competition, Anderson at 9 and Isner at 10 in 2018, with the rest of the team averaging 26th in the world over the last 3 years (excluding Socks ranking of 210 this year). Team Europes average player rankings over the last 3 years, is 6.
Now sadly this isn’t just a current theme. Out of the last 100 Mens Singles Grand Slam Titles, 28 have been won by ‘Team World’ and 72 by ‘Team Europe”, with only 1 of those 28 Team World titles coming in the last decade. Obviously the dominance of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic heavily impact that stat, but even if you remove them, currently Europe dominates. In the last 10 Grand Slam Singles titles that were not won by those three, 8 have been won by Europeans, 2 by players in the rest of the World.
It does seem that at this moment in time, Team World are going to struggle, especially considering that Federer is likely to play every year until he retires, but who knows when that will be, it means Europe are always starting with one of the games best. Team World should take confidence from the fact that even though they lost this year, they actually came closer than ever before, with arguably a weaker team than before. Team World have been unfortunate with injury every year as well, with their top player having to withdraw every year, Raonic in 2017, del Potro in 2018 and Anderson in 2019, so if in 2020 they can steer clear of injury, they could have a better chance. A team consisting of Nishikori, del Potro, Anderson, Isner, Schwartzman and Team Worlds secret weapon, Jack Sock, (Won 7 out of 9 doubles matches and 57% of Team Worlds total points) would certainly challenge the best of Team Europe. John McEnroe, get recruiting.