“Tennis doesn’t have an idea problem,” former USTA head of pro tennis Arlen Kantarian told a group of our editors 20 years ago. “It has a get-it-done problem.”
The question we were discussing wasn’t a new one: Why doesn’t tennis have its version of the Ryder Cup? Golf’s biennial team event was mustsee TV, yet tennis remained stumped as to how to replicate it. Bringing the sport’s alphabet soup of stakeholders together was too daunting a task. More than a decade after Kantarian’s exit, tennis’ get-it-done problem remained.
And then, over one weekend in 2017, the sport got it done. The Laver Cup, which will return for its third edition in Geneva this September, has been a hit. In its first two years, the Ryder Cup-like team event sold out all 10 sessions in Prague and Chicago, while delighting fans with a steady stream of content tailor-made for social media.
Figuring out what changed is easy: the name on the Cup is Rod Laver’s, but the event was built by Roger Federer. Would Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have agreed to play, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg agreed to coach, and other players agreed to become sideline cheerleaders for anyone else? Probably not.
While the reason for Laver Cup’s success is clear, the eve