Laver Cup is latest tournament forced to reschedule in coronavirus-hit calendar

Fourth playing of Rod Laver-inspired event postponed to 2021—but remains in Boston; US Open delays decision until June

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis
Borg Mcenroe
John McEnroe, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

Event organizers today announced that the Laver Cup will not be held in 2020, and will instead be postponed to 2021. The fourth edition of the tournament will still be held at the TD Garden in Boston but one year later, on 24-26 September 2021.

The move is prompted by changes to the international tennis calendar which created a scheduling conflict with other major international tennis events.

Following the unexpected announcement by the French Open in March—which will now be held in September rather than May as long as the global Covid-19 pandemic permits—the Laver Cup organizers had to reassess its position.

They and their partners—Tennis Australia, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)—conceded that it would be impossible to find another date for the Laver Cup and that there was therefore no reason to delay an inevitable decision.

Laver Cup Chairman and CEO of TEAM8 Tony Godsick said:

“We needed to make a decision now on our event. We know our passionate fans will be disappointed that they have to wait an extra year for the Laver Cup in Boston, but this is the responsible course of action, necessitated by the emerging calendar conflicts.

“We wanted to call it now to provide certainty for fans as well as players, sponsors, broadcasters, partners, staff, volunteers and of course the great city of Boston. We thank them all for their unwavering dedication, hard work, support and understanding, and we can’t wait to bring happier times to Boston in 2021.”

Roger Federer, the brainchild behind a competition aimed at recognising the iconic player, Rod Laver, said:

“It’s unfortunate that the Laver Cup has to be pushed back a year, but at this stage it’s the right thing to do for everyone concerned. Although disappointing, the good news is that the TD Garden will still be able to host the event next year, and I really look forward to finally playing in Boston for the first time at Laver Cup 2021.”

When the Laver Cup was launched in 2017 by Federer and its two team captains, John McEnroe for Team World and Bjorn Borg for Team Europe, the plan was to play the tournament across a long weekend around a fortnight after the US Open. It was scheduled to alternate between cities in Europe and the rest of the world—thus far, Prague, Chicago and Geneva—and was not originally scheduled to play in Olympic years.

So successful was the event, however, that the organizers abandoned the plan to bypass Olympic years—and 2020 would have been the first—and extend the schedule to every year.

But the coronavirus pandemic has cut a swathe through the entire tennis season, beginning with the big Masters in Indian Wells and Miami in March, and wiping out both the clay and the grass seasons. Only the French Open remains in the schedule following its land-grab just a week after the conclusion of the US Open in September.

Wimbledon abandoned the 2020 Championships, making this the first time that the oldest Major of the four will not be played aside from the two World Wars.

And while, in theory, neither the ATP nor the Women’s Tennis Association has made announcements about tournaments beyond mid-July, the women’s playing of the Rogers Cup in Montreal on 10 August has already been abandoned.

As for the US Open itself, the USTA chief executive Mike Dowse yesterday held a press conference during which he cast doubt on whether the biggest of the Majors would be played, saying that a decision would not be taken until June.

Dowse was asked whether the tournament, due to start on 31 August, could, if necessary, be played behind closed doors, and said:

“We’re not taking anything off the table right now, but to be honest and open, I think that’s highly unlikely. That’s not really in the spirit of the celebration of tennis, and it also goes back to the health and wellbeing of our players and support staff that help run the tournament. [So] unless the medical experts come up with a solution that truly is fool-proof and safe, we don’t see that as an option.”

He added:

“Obviously our ambition is to run the tournament. It’s the engine that drives our organization, our governing body. Having said that, that won’t be the driving factor… which is the health and wellbeing of the players, the fans and our staff.

“We just don’t have enough information on [whether] we can run the tournament safely. We’ve set a timeframe around June to make that decision. The way we’re approaching it is through a medical advisory group. We have five or six doctors that are consulting with us on a regular basis. Based off that information, we’ll ultimately make the decision if it’s safe to play the tournament or not.”

The Laver Cup Media Release concluded with words and sentiments that everyone, no matter their location, profession or circumstance, could share:

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with all the families who have lost loved ones in the COVID-19 epidemic, and we would like to express our enormous gratitude to the front-line workers around the world working so hard to try and stem the rate of infection and treat those who are ill.”

Fans who purchased tickets and or hospitality packages for this year’s event can either keep their tickets (which will remain valid for the Laver Cup 2021 event) or receive a full refund. All ticket holders will be contacted in the near future with details of this process. Further 2021 event updates including ticket on sale information will soon be provided on LaverCup.com.

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