Chris Powers assesses the stadium for the fifth edition of the Laver Cup in London.
Caspar Ruud’s last high-profile match was the US Open title and world number one at the crowded Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. His upcoming 2022 Laver Cup kicked off at the busy O2 Arena in London.
New World No. 2, one of the best players of the year, starts the fifth edition of the World Tag Team Competition at 13.00 London time against big-hit American Jack Sock, before Diego Schwartzman tries to face the strength of Stefanos Tsitsipas, and faces former world number 1 Andy Murray Fast Alex de Minor. Then Sock teams up with another star at the last US Open, Frances Tiafoe, in the eagerly anticipated duos against Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Rudd, who won a Davis Cup match against India in Norway last week, is the favorite against 29-year-old Sock, whose ranking has slipped to 128. In fact, Sock’s last singles match was in the first week of August when he beat On David Goffin in Washington. But Sock and Rudd have never played before, and the American has proven in the past that form on the tour doesn’t guarantee form in the tag team competitions.
Sock often saved his best for the Laver Cup. His last single was a 6-1, 7-6 win over Fabio Fognini in 2019, and in the competition’s opening round in Prague in 2017, he pushed Nadal to the limit, losing in the tiebreaker 11-9. He’s also won seven of his nine Laver Cup rubbers, and with his heavy spin on forehands – at times heavier than Nadal, measured in rotations per minute – the 126th bay might be made look ridiculous if Sock gets in The opening match.
Friday’s second of four matches is the closest in terms of rankings, when world number six Tsitsipas sits 17th.The tenthSchwartzman Rank. The two are playing for the fourth time this year and the sixth time ever, with the Greek leading 3-2. Two of this year’s matches went the full distance, and Schwartzman won his only match on the indoor hard court in 2017 in Antwerp.
Perhaps the most eagerly awaited event for local fans has seen two-time Wimbledon champion Murray return to the scene of one of his greatest victories. His second Wimbledon title came in 2016, enabling him to reach London’s O2 Arena, then home to the year-ending ATP Finals, with the chance to finish the year as world number one, and that tournament ended with Murray’s victory over Novak Djokovic. The final in what was a direct elimination round for the top position at the end of the year.
However, it proved to be his last match at The O2, as his hip condition worsened the following year, culminating in surgery in 2019 that involved a metal pin implant. The fact that he’s playing at all is great, and his recent run to the third round of the US Open cemented his place in the world’s 50 best players list (he is currently 43 years old).
However, Murray will need all the home support he can get. He ceded 21 places in the evening’s Laver Cup match against Alex de Minaur, the Australian had won his only previous encounter – albeit in pre-pandemic times three years ago in Zhuhai – and de Minaur was in good shape with tough America. The stadiums, the title win in Atlanta and the third round match for Murray at the US Open.
With Team Europe featuring four of the greatest players in tennis history – three of them playing on opening day – Team World might be pleased with just one win. However, John McEnroe’s team has a realistic chance in all four rubbers for Friday.
While it would be annoying for Sock to outsmart Roode, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise. Tsitsipas-Schwartzman is a clear 50:50, and Team World has the advantage in the Murray de Minor match. The joker in the pack is the doubles, with Federer and Nadal two top emotional performers, but Sock is a high-quality doubles player with 17 titles including three major titles in men’s doubles, so he and the resplendent Tiafo may be too much for them. European myths.
As the cliché says, there really is everything to play for.