The greatest rivals in tennis today will put their personal competition aside to play together in the inaugural Laver Cup in Prague next year.
Five tennis legends – Rod Laver, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe – came together for a press conference to announce details about the Laver Cup on Wednesday.
Named after tennis legend Ron Laver, the tournament was first announced during the Australian Open in January as a men’s team event that will take place annually in September, but not during an Olympic year.
The cup will feature a European team against a group from the rest of the world, which is where Federer and Nadal come in. The tennis rivals will team up for the first time and play for the same side – and even compete as a doubles team!
A team of six players from Europe will play against a team of the best players from the rest of the world over the course of three days – much like the structure of golf’s Ryder Cup, where a U.S. team faces a European team.
“It’s gonna be very special to be on a team with Roger,” Nadal said at the conference Wednesday morning. “We have been like rivals for all of our careers, so to be on the same team, and even play some doubles together, will be something very special and I’m very excited about it.”
For his part, Federer is excited to finally be on the same side as his rival’s impressive talents.
“I think it’s going to be absolutely unbelievable – to be on the same side of the net as Rafa finally is a great feeling,” Federer said. “I was facing the big forehand and now I can actually support it and tell him to hit one more and actually get joy out of it.”
But the event will also come with a little competition! Two legendary athletes are set to reignite their competitive streak as they captain different teams.
Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will face off again – years after their electric rivalry on the court captivated the world. Borg will captain the European team – which will consist of Nadal, Federer and the two next highest players on the ATP world rankings.
On the other side, McEnroe will captain the team comprised of players from the rest of the world. And while the odds seem stacked against him with the European team having the current best players on its side, McEnroe warned not to count his team out.
“[Rio 2016 silver medalist] Juan Martin [Del Potro] is gonna be a huge positive and there are some young guys that are gonna make a break through in the next year or two,” McEnroe said. “I think this is gonna be a lot more competitive than it may appear at the moment.”
The teams will consist of the first four ranked players from Europe and the rest of the world with two additional “Captain’s Pick” players rounding out the teams on both sides.
The inaugural Laver Cup will be played next year at the O2 Arena in Prague on Sept. 22-24.