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The Two-Minute Guide to the Laver Cup

Roger Federer brings elite tennis to Chicago with a newish three-day event.

Photo illustration by Matt Herring
Illustration: Matt Herring; Photos: (Anderson) Matthew Stockman/Getty Images; (Kyrgios) Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire; (Del Potro) AP Photo/Tim Ireland; (Djokovic) Chaz Niell/Icon Sportswire; (Federer) Cynthia Lum/Icon Sportswire; (United) Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

What It Is

Think of it as tennis’s answer to golf’s Ryder Cup: a team tournament of singles and doubles matches, pitting Europe’s best players against, in this case, not only the United States but the rest of the world. This is just the second Laver Cup, conceived as an annual event by Federer and named after Australian tennis legend Rod Laver. (Team Europe won the 2017 tournament in Prague.)

Who Will Be There

Each team has six players — four top-ranked and two captain’s choices:

• Team Europe (captained by Björn Borg): 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer, 14-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin, and Kyle Edmund

• Team World (captained by John McEnroe): Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson, John Isner, Diego Schwartzman, Jack Sock, Nick Kyrgios, and Frances Tiafoe (who was a late replacement for Juan Martín del Potro)

What You’ll See

• Federer playing tennis in Chicago for the first time in his 20-year career

• The prospect of erstwhile rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal pairing up for doubles

• McEnroe loosening things up — as he did last year, when he broke into a Teletubbies-esque dance on the sideline

• Tennis played on an all-black court, distinct to this event

The Format

All matches are the best of three, the way women’s matches are. Not too unconventional. But the tournament scoring is where the fun comes in:

• The first team to 13 points wins the event. But not all matches are created equal: A win on Friday earns one point; a Saturday win, two; and a Sunday victory, three — amping up the drama for the finals.

• If the teams are tied after that, one last doubles match decides the winner.

The Stakes

Don’t underestimate how much these competitors want to win. “When I’m playing for myself, sometimes I don’t put the greatest effort in,” Team World’s Kyrgios said last year after narrowly losing to Federer in the deciding match. “When I play with these guys, I’m playing for something as a team. … That’s why it hurt. I gave everything I had.”

Details:September 21 to 23. United Center, 1901 W. Madison St. $25 to $840 per session; from $260 for tournament pass. (Tickets are nearly sold out but are available through resellers.) Matches will be broadcast on the Tennis Channel. lavercup.com

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