Laver Cup confirms stunning world-first change

This weekend's exhibition Laver Cup tournament has already broken ranks from the tennis tour with its Europe v World team structure.

But a physical change will be the most striking adjustment for players and fans alike when the action in the Czech Republic gets underway this weekend.

In a world first for top-level tennis, a black court has been laid.


Most hard courts around the world are shades of green, blue or red but the Laver Cup, which is partly backed by Roger Federer and Tennis Australia, will be played on the dark surface at the O2 Arena in Prague.

Team Europe, captained by Bjorn Borg, is heavily favoured to win the inaugural tournament behind a star-studded roster of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Tomas Berdych.

Team World is led by John McEnroe and headed by four Americans -- Jack Sock, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Frances Tiafoe -- alongside Australian star Nick Kyrgios and Canada's Denis Shapovalov.

Tennis legends Roger Federer and Rod Laver. Pic: Getty
Tennis legends Roger Federer and Rod Laver. Pic: Getty

Aussie youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis is also in Prague as a reserve player.

With singles and doubles tennis matches making up the three-day tournament, the black court might not stand alone as the weekend's only world-first milestone.

At least four of each team's six players must be used in the doubles, and no doubles pairing can be repeated unless the tie goes down to a deciding match on the final day.

With all of that in mind, it is a strong possibility that the great adversaries Federer and Nadal will be on the same side of the net for the first time in their storied careers.

Federer trains on the black court. Pic: Getty
Federer trains on the black court. Pic: Getty

The involvement of Kyrgios, who has already built rivalries with Federer, Nadal and Zverev in a short time, comes just days after Australia fell to Belgium in the Davis Cup semi-finals.

The Laver Cup, which has been pitched as tennis's version of the prestigious Ryder Cup between Europe and the United States, was criticised by Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt.

"(The Davis Cup) has been here for over a hundred years," he said last week.

"The Laver Cup is not country against country. This is where you get to put on a green and gold jacket. You get to play alongside guys you grew up with.

DAVIS CUP: Kyrgios set for showdown as Aussies discover 2018 path

The all-black design takes classy to another level. Pic: Getty
The all-black design takes classy to another level. Pic: Getty

"It's a pretty special time and the home and away aspect of the Davis Cup is something we should never lose. It's the one unique factor about this competition. Even though we are away this week we are really enjoying it.

"We get to bond as a team and a country. There is no greater honour in playing for your country."

The 2018 Davis Cup will take place in the USA, with Australia a chance to host the 2019 edition.