‘It’s A Trophy Worth Fighting For’: Team Europe Ready To Stake Laver Cup Claim
Team Europe may count four debutants among its six-strong roster for this year’s Laver Cup, but that does not mean there is any shortage of big-stage experience for captain Bjorn Borg to call upon this weekend in Vancouver.
With 42 ATP Tour titles between them, Borg is excited at the lineup he has to choose from this year as he aims to help Europe reclaim the trophy from Team World at the annual event.
“I’m very happy with my team. We had a good practice the whole week,” said Borg at Team Europe’s pre-tournament press conference. “I think it’s going to be very interesting match. Unfortunately, we lost last year in London. That was a very big disappointment.
“I know that all these six guys are very eager to bring back the trophy to Europe… It’s the best week of the year for me personally, and spend time with these great champions here, it’s such a nice thing. The team we have together, it’s wonderful. It’s a very close team, and it should be in that kind of way.”
Team Europe came to serve 📸 pic.twitter.com/1qI3u1rFhy
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 22, 2023
With Gael Monfils, Hubert Hurkacz, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Arthur Fils set to make their debuts, Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev are the Laver Cup veterans aiming to help their teammates settle in quickly to the unique format of the competition.
“Me and Andrey, who has also played before, are going to do our best to help our fellow teammates who are here for the first time, and hopefully that experience can help a little bit,” said Norway’s Ruud. “Just enjoy but give it your all. It’s a trophy worth fighting for. It’s much more fun to hold it than go in the locker room on Sunday not having won. That’s the advice I would give.”
Team Europe’s Laver Cup first-timers include two Frenchmen at different stages of their careers in Gael Monfils and Arthur Fils. The 36-year-old Monfils, who will take on Canadian favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime on Day 1, is hoping his wealth of experience can help his #NextGenATP countryman Fils, as well as the rest of the team, forge a positive result this weekend at Roger’s Arena.
“It’s always great to be in a team,” said Monfils. “Like a little bit different, but the first time also I play with Arthur. We couldn’t manage to play on Davis Cup together. Then with the other guys, we’ve known each other for long time also, and it’s just great.
“As I say to all of them, I’m there, you know, to loosen up everybody and definitely to help them. This competition, it was on my bucket list. It looks great, looks fantastic. Definitely the type of format that I love to play and compete in, with team spirit. I was very flattered when I received a call, and 100 per cent will be ready tomorrow for a good one.”
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Regardless of who is on court for Team Europe at any particular time, they will have the support of five other players they normally see as rivals, week-in, week-out on the ATP Tour. For Ruud, it is this dynamic which makes Laver Cup so engaging.
“I think it’s nice to have your typical opponents be teammates for once,” said Ruud. “When you’re playing Davis Cup or United Cup, you have your countrymen as your teammates. But here it’s anyone from Europe can be your teammate.
“You kind of connect or create a connection or a bond that you can kind of use for the rest of the year. The next year it’s easier to know each other, to set up practices. At least I felt like that helped a lot for me when I played my first year [in] Boston. [It] was kind of easier to ask the guys to practice in the future and so on.
“It’s just really fun competition. You have to learn all the good and all the bad sides of your teammates.”