A Story for the Ages: Team World’s First Laver Cup Victory

The Laver Cup has long been hailed as one of the most exciting tournaments during the tennis season. However, it has been a one-sided tournament throughout much of its history, with Team Europe taking it the past five editions. This year, however, was much different, in many ways. For one, this was Roger Federer’s final ever tournament, where he would play doubles alongside rival, and friend Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic would be making his comeback to the tour after an 11-week hiatus. And, most of all, this time around, Team World would take home the coveted trophy for the first time in its team history, after some spectacular wins to seal the deal.

            Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, and Felix Auger-Alliasime all had huge wins, with each beating Stefanos Tsitsipas, Cameron Norrie, and Novak Djokovic respectively. Jack Sock worked his magic in the doubles, sending Federer into retirement with a loss. Alex De Minaur also gained points for the World team, with a win over Andy Murray. All of this culminated in the victory. There are broader implications to consider, however. For example, will American tennis players finally make a breakthrough and make deep runs at grand slams again? Will there be a second golden era for tennis outside of Europe?

            Taylor Fritz, the highest-ranked American tennis player, has had a great year thus far. With a first-ever Masters 1000 title as well as a deep run at Wimbledon to the quarterfinals, he has been in stellar form. His victory over Cameron Norrie gave critical points to Team World, a team that desperately needed the points in order to have any chance at winning. Fritz has been a fresh face for American tennis, especially with the drought in American success at the slams over the past decade or so. Ever since Andy Roddick, American tennis has struggled with finding form. However, 2022 has proven to be much different. Fritz has led the breakthrough in American tennis players paving the path to glory on the biggest stages.

            It is not just Taylor Fritz who has experienced success. Frances Tiafoe had a huge run to the semifinals of the US Open this year, beating Rafael Nadal in the process and losing in a tight five-set match to eventual winner Carlos Alcaraz. His game attracted many from around the nation and world, and he proved that he could compete against the best players on the biggest of stages. Once again, he is another example of a pioneer in the effort to push American tennis forth.

            This is not without saying that a crop of young tennis players are not rising. Just recently, Brandon Nakashima won his first title in San Diego. Other young guns are making moves as well, such as Sebastian Korda. It will not take long for these players to best the highest level players.

            Of course, it is not just American tennis that will be flourishing. As has already been seen, Australian tennis seems tobe seeing a resurgence as well, with the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur, and Thanasi Kokkinnakis starting to find great form when they need it the most. However, more than any country, American tennis has struggled as compared to recent years. That era of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Jim Courier was one of the most enjoyable for tennis in America. Thus, the previous success of these players makes the lack of success right now hurt even more. 

The recent trend with the American players will hopefully stir a resurgence. Evidently, the Laver Cup victory that took place is just a continuation of an already-apparent pattern amongst American pros. With these tennis players now inspiring more and more young children to pick up their racquet and get out onto the tennis courts, it will definitely be fun to watch and see how a Euro-dominated sport will slowly start to shift into the hands of the other nations, especially Americans.

This is How Legends are Made

“….I’m crankin’ up on the throttle
Victory is mine
Show you the harder the battle
The harder I fight
I’ve come too far to quit
Step back I’m goin’ in
I’m crankin’ up on the throttle
This is how legends are made…” – Sam Tinnesz

The 19-year-old whiz kid from El Palmar delivered. He delivered those sensational ground strokes, mesmerized us with those delicate drop shots, stunned us with those mighty serves and took our breath away with that unfathomable “behind the back” return. It was not a normal tennis match where two individuals hurling shots at each other, it was poetry in motion, it was a new star born in the Flushing Meadows that lit the city of dreams on Sunday night many times more than the starts above could do.

What a breath of fresh air! No tantrums on the court, no spitting, no throwing racquet, no hitting the chair umpire, no appearance on the Vogue cover, the flamboyant young man showed what it takes to be not just a Grand Slam winner, but a true example for hard work and determination for the millions watching.

He was born merely 60 days before Roger won his first Grand Slam in 2003 and the fabled dominance of the “big three” started. While Roger, Rafa and the Novak swept 63 of the 76 slams since then, we had so many “next generations” that came and gone. From Sascha to Tsitsipas, from Dominic to Dimitrov, from Felix to Frances, the inventory never ends. Nobody stuck. As thousands of kids of his generation were getting glued to the digital world, thanks to Tik Tok, YouTube, Video Games et al, this kid was trying harder everyday silently in his grandfather’s tennis academy. Noticed by the local tennis association when he was 11 and picked up by Juan Carlos Ferrero when he was 15, the kid was breaking all barriers.  As he made his way through to the #1 spot with his plethora of weapons, records started falling like a house of cards. Youngest #1 in the open era, youngest slam winner since Rafa, second youngest US Open winner, one of the very few to beat Novak and Rafa in back to back matches, the list goes on.

Records are meant to be broken. Winners are found every now and then. But very few become the giants of the sport. Even rarer is a sportsman who becomes an ambassador of hard work, integrity and great demeanor. Every step of Carlos Alcaraz embodies how passion leads to performance, how hard work leads to heroics and how every reaction reverberates across the area. Carlos Alcaraz may or may not become the greatest of all time, he may win 10, 20, 30 Slams, who knows? But for now, when Patrick McEnroe asked him before his match with Tiafoe, with a witty wink, the indefatigable teenager said “at 19, I do not have any time to be tired”. We will also never be tired Carlos watching you. The stage is set for you. Take a bow, show the magic and inspire millions across the globe. You have arrived!

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano #1 – The Sports Quiz

With the US Open underway in full swing, this week’s quiz is about Tennis. Let me challenge your mind with remarkable anecdotes form the history of tennis. Let me know how many you can crack!! Answers next week.

Q1. Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History acquired a racquet from John Isner in 2010 to showcase as important memorabilia from the history of American Tennis. What was special about this racquet?

Q2:  Serena just hung up her boots during the US open. The legend has won 39 Grand Slam titles, 23 singles 14 doubles and 2 mixed doubles. Can you name the player who partnered Serena on both occasions when she won the mixed doubles (both in 1998)?

Q3: What unique event happened before the start of the match between Tim Henman and Michael Llorda during the second round of Wimbledon in 2003?

Q4: Ivan Lendl won the US Open in 1985 and in doing so he stopped one of the most bizarre results that the US open witnessed for the past 11 years in a row. Can you guess what streak did he stop?

Q5:  In his recent win over Richard Gasquet in the US open 3rd round, Rafa extended his H2H over Gasquet to 18-0. Believe it or not, talking about most wins without a loss in the open era, Borg has 17-0 against Gerulaitis, Novak has 17-0 over Monfils and Lendl has 17-0 record against Mayotte. Roger has 17-0 record H2H against not just one but 2 players!!!! Can you name them?

Q6: For what peculiar reason Marat Safin was fined $2,000 by the Australian Open authorities in the year 2000 post his first round loss to South African Grant Stafford?

Q7: When Boris Becker won his first ever Wimbledon in 1985, a young player named Leonardo Lavalle Moreno won the Junior Grand Slam at Wimbledon in the same year. What was unique about his win as it relates to the win of Becker in 1985?

Q8: A match was held between Federer and Nadal (the world number #1 and #2 respectively) on May 2nd, 2007 in Palma De Mallorca in which Nadal prevailed 7-5, 4-6, 7-6. What was unique about this match?

Q9: An easy one, you will find the tattoo “give a man a mask and he will become his true self” in the leg of the leading tennis player “A”. When “A” defeated “B”, in 2022 Wimbledon in a highly controversial encounter, “B” took Instagram and used the same quote to take jibe at “A”. Identify the players “A” and “B”.

Q10: Carlos Moya was world number #1 for 2 weeks. Muster, Rios and Kafelinikov held the world number #1 position for 6 weeks each. Which 2 times grand slam winner held his position as world number #1 only for a week? 

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