January 29, 2016 / 8:50 AM / 3 years ago

Ryder Cup-style competition coming for men's tennis

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Men’s teams from Europe and the Rest of the World will begin a Ryder Cup-style competition in 2017 that will be named after Australian great Rod Laver, organizers said on Friday.

The Laver Cup, styled after golf’s biennial Ryder Cup tournament, will see teams of six compete in both singles and doubles over three days, with four players selected on a “results-based formula” and two named as captain’s picks.

The first edition of the tournament, which will be staged annually barring summer Olympic years, is expected to be held in Europe.

“I’m certainly honored that it warrants the name the Laver Cup,” 77-year-old Laver, the only player to win two calendar year grand slams and 11 in total, told reporters.

“Hopefully the top players will want to participate.”

A European team would be heavily favoured at present, with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Rafa Nadal and Tomas Berdych the top six ranked players in the world.

The highest-placed non-European is Japan’s seventh-ranked Kei Nishikori.

The tournament could prove unpopular with some players who have complained that the tour’s playing schedule is already too taxing.

Players will not be compelled to play even if they qualify and they will not compete for rankings points.

“We have notified the top players ... and their management teams,” Australia Open tournament director and CEO of Tennis Australia Craig Tiley said.

“The feedback’s been positive.

“We expect great participation from the top players.”

The tournament is the brainchild of Team8, the management agency of 17-times grand slam winner Roger Federer, Tennis Australia and Jorge Paulo Lemann, a Brazilian businessman and former Davis Cup player for Brazil and Switzerland.

The tournament had the support of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the governing body for men’s professional tennis, Tiley said.

Team8 boss Tony Godsick said the event would offer “substantial prizemoney”.

“You’ve seen what’s happened with the Ryder Cup and where it is today and we believe it’s going to be a stop on the calendar which will be a must-do for the players and the fans.

“We hope that they will play hard for Mr. Laver.”

While principally an individual sport, tennis does have team events administered by the International Tennis Federation with players representing their countries in the men’s Davis Cup and women’s Fed Cup.

Britain won their first Davis Cup since 1936 last year, while the Czech Republic won their second successive Fed Cup. It was their fourth victory in five years.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury and Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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