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Here is this week's edition of Tough Call. Can Team World Shock Team Europe and win Laver Cup?
Ready, set, go....
Four Reasons Team World Can Beat Team Europe
~ Rafael Nadal has had an amazing season, but the last two players to beat him—Denis Shapovalov, in Montreal, and Nick Kyrgios, in Cincinnati—are on Team World, hoping to pick him off again. (The same could have been send for Federer's last conqueror, Juan Martin del Potro, before the Argentine withdrew due to injury.)
~ Four of the six players on Team World have earned wins over Top 2 players in their careers.
~ Team World has the only Grand Slam doubles champion in the field: Jack Sock, won Wimbledon in 2014 with Vasek Pospisil. With doubles part of the Laver Cup format, experience is critical.
~ With the exception of late addition Frances Tiafoe, each member of Team World has made the semifinals or better in a tournament at the Masters 1000 level or higher this year (Sam Querrey at a Grand Slam; John Isner, Nick Kyrgios, Sock and Shapovalov at hard-court Masters 1000 events).
Four Reasons Team Europe Can Beat Team World
~ Team Europe has five of the Top 7 players in the world (No. 1 Nadal, No. 2 Federer, No. 4 Alexander Zverev, No. 5 Marin Cilic and No. 7 Dominic Thiem) and a former No. 4 in Tomas Berdych.
~ Nadal and Federer have been the best players of the year by far: Nadal has two majors (French Open, US Open) and two Masters 1000s (Monte Carlo, Madrid) while Federer also has two majors (Australian Open, Wimbledon) and two Masters 1000s (Indian Wells, Miami). They’ve only missed out on Rome, Montreal and Cincinnati.
~ Zverev, who won two of those three other Masters 1000s in Rome and Montreal, is also on Team Europe.
~ Team Europe has a major home advantage: not only should they have big crowd support in Prague, but they’ve also got the Czech Republic’s No. 1 player in Berdych.
OUR EXPERTS WEIGH IN
STEVE FLINK: No
On paper it would seem Team Europe has a substantial advantage over Team World. But Kyrgios can beat anyone on any given day, Shapovalov's stock is rising swiftly, Isner can serve anyone off the court and Querrey is having a terrific year, including a semifinal showing at Wimbledon and the quarterfinal run at the US Open. Federer may not yet be fully fit and Nadal is likely to be somewhat weary after his triumphant run in New York. An inspired World contingent could come through against the odds—but I only give them a 31 percent chance of winning.
ASHLEY NDEBELE: Yes
Just looking at the Team World's impressive roster, I don’t see why they can’t pull off an upset. While Team Europe is loaded, Team World isn’t lacking in the talent department, especially considering some of their recent wins on hard courts (including Kyrgios' upset of Nadal last month in Cincy). Querrey and Shapovalov are two of the hottest players on tour, and Isner can play inspired tennis.
ED MCGROGAN: Yes
I think Team Europe will feel some pressure in Prague. The five highest-ranked players will compete for the home side, including Nadal and Federer, who not only split this year's Grand Slam hardware, but helped unveil this very event. After a long season, will they be fresh? They—along with the flagging Zverev—need to be against Team World, which is brimming with big-swingers that have nothing to lose. An upset in Europe would be the best thing for tennis, and the future of the Laver Cup—and I believe Isner, Kyrgios and co. will be motivated enough to make it happen.
NINA PANTIC: No
Team Europe will have the edge, thanks to Grand Slam dominators Federer and Nadal. What Team World lacks in elite star power they will make up for with fighting spirit thanks to energetic, crowd-hungry characters like Kyrgios and Shapovalov. A win for Team Europe is most likely, but so is an entertaining show.
About Tough Call:
In Tough Call, our TC Live panelists debate the toughest questions in tennis. Is Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal the GOAT? Who would win between 2007 Serena Williams and 2017 Serena Wiliams? On court coaching - yes or no? Tennis is a competitive, one on one sport. In Tough Call our experts debate - and our viewers decide who wins.