Eighteen-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and Czech player Tomas Berdych came together on Monday to begin the countdown for the first edition of the Laver Cup.
Watch the two as they rallied on a boat cruising the Vltava river in a friendly match on a shiny black court during the promotion of the upcoming tournament and left fans surprised.
Thousands of people overlooked Berdych and Federer from the Charles Bridge as they kick started the countdown to the Laver Cup in style, on a cruise before meeting fans at the Old Town Square, Prague.
The competition will pit a team of the best six European players against the top six from the rest of the world. The inaugural edition is scheduled for 22 to 24 September at the O2 Arena in Prague. The following year, it moves to the United States.
"The idea is to absolutely have a tough tournament, tough matches, the better man wins, that's the idea of the Laver Cup," Federer said.
While Federer recently made a historic comeback after ousting Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open, the Laver Cup has generated huge curiosity among tennis lovers as favorites Nadal, Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic might represent the Europe team and take over Rest of the World team.
Bjorn Bjorg will captain Europe while John McEnroe will do the same for the opponents. The tournament is to honor Rod Laver, an 11-time major champion who won two calendar-year Grand Slams.
No ATP rankings points will be awarded, but Federer insisted that an exhibition "is not how the captains see it, that's not how Rod Laver sees it. He wants us to represent our part of the world with pride and try our very best and also win for our teammates."
The teams won't be named until after the US Open, but it's not clear yet if all players who will formally qualify via the rankings will be available.
Federer and Berdych expressed their excitement for the tournament as the ticket sales for the inaugural edition begin on 24 February.''I’m super excited about teaming up with some of my greatest rivals, like Rafa and Tomas. We’ve never had the chance to really sit on the sidelines and cheer each other on, and play doubles together, rather than facing each other on opposite sides of the net,'' Federer told reporters.
“I know from experience how tough Roger is as an opponent, and personally will make it a mission to qualify for Laver Cup so we can be on the same team," Berdych was reported as saying by the official Laver Cup website. This will also be the first time in ten years that Federer will play in Prague.
With Murray, Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka also possibly on the team, Europe seems to be the one to beat.
"On paper, we look as the big favorites," Federer said. "We have more depth in Team Europe that we can choose from."
The tournament will include three singles and one doubles match every day. Federer was clear about his choice of his possible partner for the doubles.
"I guess I would love to play with Rafa just because of our rivalry has been so special," Federer said.
With inputs from AP
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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2017 13:42:04 IST