Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic descend on Chicago for Laver Cup
CHICAGO—The second annual Laver Cup has taken over the Windy City for its first appearance in the United States.
The brainchild of Roger Federer, the team event pits a loaded Team Europe against a strong Team World.
"My mindset here is that the team comes first," Federer said on Wednesday. "I enjoy the idea of being rivals throughout the year and then coming together like this for a weekend is incredibly exciting."
Federer leads Team Europe which includes Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin, Kyle Edmund and alternate Jeremy Chardy.
Team World will feature John Isner, Kevin Anderson, Frances Tiafoe, Diego Schwartzman, Jack Sock, Nick Kyrgios and alternate Nicolas Jarry.
While the exhibition is played across three days from Friday to Sunday, players arrived to Chicago well ahead of match time—as early as Monday.
Even Isner, who just had a baby on Saturday, was already in town getting practices and media appearances in.
Roger Federer greets an enthusiastic crowd in Chicago
On Wednesday, both teams and their captains (John McEnroe and Patrick McEnroe for Team World and Bjorn Borg and Thomas Enqvist for Team Europe) were presented at an official welcome at Millennium Park.
They were treated like rock stars, and the crowd went understandably wild for Federer. Djokovic earned plenty of attention, too, given the large Serbian population in Chicago.
The Laver Cup format will see three singles matches and one doubles match each day, with teams fighting to get to 13 first. Instead of third sets, players will fight to win a deciding tiebreaker.
Wins are worth one point each on Friday, two on Saturday and three on Sunday, allowing for comebacks all the way through to the final day. Doubles will play a huge role, with a set played if teams are tied at 13-all on Sunday.
The event is unlike any of its kind as players that aren't from the same country will be suiting up as teammates—most for the first time. Some will have chemistry, like good pals Kyrgios and Sock, while others are technically rivals like Federer and Djokovic.
The beauty of Laver Cup is the instant camaraderie, team spirit and brand-new pairings; there's a chance of seeing Federer and Djokovic playing on the same side of the net this weekend.
"I would like to play with [Djokovic]," Federer said. "I hope he feels the same way. We are figuring it out internally as we speak."
The lineup isn't fully decided yet. During practice on Wednesday on the special all-black court inside the United Center, Federer played doubles with Zverev against Dimitrov and Goffin.
Were the Team Europe members they taking it seriously? At one point, Federer took a hit to the face when a Goffin zinger was fired his way.
All of the matches will be covered by Tennis Channel starting with a pre-show on Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern, and match coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.