Team World Raring To Go At Laver Cup As McEnroe & Fritz Eye Title Defence

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Team World Raring To Go At Laver Cup As McEnroe & Fritz Eye Title Defence

McEnroe discusses depth of American tennis

Team World broke new ground at the Laver Cup in 2022, defeating Team Europe for the first time to lift the trophy in London.

Twelve months on and John McEnroe’s side is ready to go in Vancouver, where ATP Tour stars including Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe will aim to guide Team World to a successful title defence.

“In the format, how it’s always gone, it always comes down to the wire either way,” Fritz said when looking ahead to the sixth edition of the three-day event. “Europe has always been the favourite, but it’s also been really close almost every year. Maybe we might be the favourites this year with winning last year and we have such a strong team, but we can’t be thinking like that because it’s probably going to come down to the wire either way, so we have to treat it like it’s all the other years.”

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Team World possesses Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and alternate Milos Raonic, Argentine Francisco Cerundolo and five Americans: Fritz, Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Ben Shelton and Christopher Eubanks, who like Raonic, is an alternate.

With seven Americans inside the Top 50 and 20-year-old Shelton fresh off his run to the semi-finals at the US Open, captain McEnroe is excited about the future of the sport in the United States.

“I think it’s a great mix. I think these three [Fritz, Tiafoe and Paul] have shown over the years they have helped each other, gone at it against each other, trained, and have fed off each other, and that’s made them better players,” said McEnroe, who will lead Team World for the sixth time. “They are this close now, making that breakthrough. That’s a great thing. Then bringing Ben in the mix, as a young buck who is going to come with a lot of energy, a lot of ability, keep pushing. We’re heading in a great direction.”

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Shelton has enjoyed a breakthrough season on the ATP Tour, reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and the last four at the US Open. Currently at a career-high No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the 20-year-old is excited to make his Laver Cup debut.

“Being back in a team environment, I feel really comfortable, really excited to be on this team with these guys,” said Shelton, who plays Arthur Fils on Friday. “The last few years I have been watching them tear it up on Tour, been watching tear it up in this event, so really happy to be here. Excited to be kicking things off tomorrow.”

Auger-Aliassime is preparing to make his third appearance at the event, having earned a vital victory against Novak Djokovic in London in 2022. The Canadian is relishing the chance to compete on home soil and believes the event will provide long-term benefits to Vancouver.

“We are here to compete. We want to win. And to have I think the home crowd and to have the people with us to do that, I think it’s going to be great,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I had a great experience winning last year, but it was away, so to speak. So it would be nice to do it at home and kind of like celebrate with the people here and kind of keep the trophy in our hands. But excited to kick it off tomorrow night. I think it’s going to be a good day.

“The last few years it’s 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,” Auger-Aliassime later added. “This morning seeing kids like from around here that play in different clubs around here to come out and see the event and see us practise, I think it’s great to have that. I would have loved to see that when I was growing up here.”

The Laver Cup will be played over three days, from 22-24 September, across five sessions. Each match win is worth one point on Friday, two points on Saturday and three points on a high-stakes Sunday. The first team to reach 13 points (out of a possible 24) wins the Laver Cup.

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