John McEnroe Laver Cup 2022

The Laver Cup upset marks a new era in tennis, and sets the stage for Alcaraz to show his talent

As the saying goes – fifth time’s the charm. Or at least that’s the case when it comes to the Laver Cup, which Team World finally managed to win just a couple weeks ago. 

The fifth iteration of the Laver Cup will probably be the most memorable, not in small part due to the retirement announcement by Roger Federer, but also for the unbelievable comeback by Team World and Frances Tiafoe to secure the win through several thrilling matches. But this tournament means a whole lot more to tennis than a simple upset, it marks a ‘changing of the guard’ for tennis’ top names. 

What Changed for Team World?

It was a pretty remarkable turn of events that led to Team World claiming their first Laver Cup victory for the first time after four consecutive losses. The incredible talent on Team Europe locked them in as clear favorites on pretty much all the betting apps in the USA, but the underdogs surged back from behind on the Sunday to hoist the trophy.

Battling back from an 8-4 point deficit on the Sunday, Team World secured the nine points they needed in back-to-back-to-back wins on the day. The North American duo of Sock and Auger-Alissime started it off, followed by a second win of the day by Auger-Aliassime over World No. 7 Djokovic. Then it came to a wild finish as American Frances Tiafoe battled back from a first set loss to clinch the victory for John McEnroe’s team. 

There’s no clear reason for the upset win, but there is no doubt that Roger Federer’s retirement played a part, as his contribution to the Laver Cup defense ended abruptly after he and Nadal lost their first and only match at the start of the tournament. 

Or maybe it was just John McEnroe getting his players fired up that spurred the comeback. 

What is Changing for the Tennis World?

The gap left by Federer’s departure, and the imminent, probable retirement of Nadal now leaves a lot of room for other players to step up to the service line and navigate into a new era of tennis without some of the greatest players to ever take the court. 

During the 2022 season there were a number of incredible players that have climbed towards the top of the rankings, including US Open finalist Casper Ruud, Alexander Zverev, and Cam Norrie. And for the first time in a while it wasn’t just European players making waves. Laver Cup hero Frances Tiafoe upset Nadal and pushed through to the semis at Flushing Meadows, and Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime also proved why he’s been closing in on a top-10 ranking after dismantling Djokovic in straight sets at the Laver Cup. 

But the main story is centered around the Spanish teenage phenom, Carlos Alcarzz. 

Can Carlos Alcaraz Fill Federer’s Shoes?

2022 brought about the end of several notable careers, including Serena Williams and Roger Federer, but it also saw Carlos Alcaraz, the youngest ever World No. 1, win his first Grand Slam at the US Open.

And it wasn’t even against one of the ‘Big Three.’

The 19 year-old has already solidified his name as a champion, and is poised to take the place of Rafael Nadal as the next great Spanish player. But it’s a bit more than that, Alcaraz has been praised by all of the greats, including Federer who bemoaned never having the opportunity to play against the young star. 

There is still a monumental hill for the young Grand Slam winner to climb before he can be talked about in the same way as the greats, but he has shown sparks of brilliance that bode well for his future, notably winning the Madrid Open with victories over both Nadal and Djokovic on the clay. And his achievement of being the youngest US Open champion since Pete Sampras in 1990 is nothing to scoff at. 

Furthermore, the comparisons of his speed to a young Nadal, defensive capabilities to Djokovic, and offensive court control to Federer are all reasons he may become the next superstar. That being said, it takes a bit more than winning a few games to be compared to Federer, so we’re not going to comment on that for a few more years (and a few more Grand Slams), but if Alcaraz stays on his current trajectory it wouldn’t be surprising to see him break a few more records. 

It’s an exciting time to be a tennis fan, and even though most have enjoyed the sheer dominance a few players have exhibited over the past 25 years, having a bit more of an unknown is a nice change of pace. Only time will tell if Alcaraz can begin to match what Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have already accomplished, but for the moment it’s time to enjoy the ride and see what new, exciting talent hits the court next. 

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.