Laver Cup to start in '17 to honour tennis legend

MELBOURNE • It was Novak Djokovic against Roger Federer on Thursday in the Rod Laver Arena in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

But if the organisers of a new tennis competition have their way, it will soon be world No. 1 Djokovic and world No. 3 Federer playing on the same European team for a trophy called the Laver Cup.

The men's team event, set to start in 2017, will match the best players from Europe against the best from the rest of the world over three days of competition in singles and doubles.

Each team is to have six players - four who have qualified through the ATP rankings, as well as two captain's picks.

There would be three singles matches and one doubles match per day. In the event of a tie after the 12 scheduled matches, a final doubles match would be played to determine the winner.

The Laver Cup - created by Team8, the agency that represents Federer - has the backing of Tennis Australia, which organises the Australian Open, as well as Brazilian businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann, a former Davis Cup player.

The plan is for the event to be contested annually in late September but not played during Olympic years. There would be no permanent site, but the plan is to play the 2017 event in Europe on an indoor hard court and rotate between international and European sites going forward.

The concept is based on golf's Ryder Cup, which matches a European team against one from the United States.

But the inspiration came from Federer, according to his long-time agent, Tony Godsick, who said the Swiss charged him more than two years ago with creating something that would have the potential to endure and would honour Laver, an Australian who was the only player to complete two Grand Slams.

"Rod Laver is someone I've always thought was very inspiring," 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer said. "I think it's important to leave a legacy for the legends, and Rod Laver, to me, stands out because of his achievements and his character and everything. And that's when the idea for the Laver Cup came, to name a Cup after him and to also have captains who then lead a team of today's players."

Laver, 77, is to select the first two captains. He said: "It's just a great honour that my name is going to be on this. All the European players now, they seem to be in the driver's seat, but I think it will be very competitive."

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Laver Cup to start in '17 to honour tennis legend'. Print Edition | Subscribe