The Laver Cup: Just A Cash-Grab?

Earlier today, early-access tickets for the Laver Cup 2022 went live. Those that curiously clicked the emailed link to take them to the selection sale screen quickly had their eyes dragged out from their skulls and expanded in shock, their wallets and purses in their pockets and bags cowering away in darkened corners, begging not to be reached for.

Roger Federer’s brainchild is asking rather a lot of those that wish to attend it for all three of its days, handing out bills requesting £300 for the highest of the high seats, those rafter neighbours that require binoculars if you’d like to see the actual action taking place below. From there, of course, the price only increases as the levels descend, taking us down to courtside as our accounts empty of thousands. Should we wish to sit on the ground level, we’ll be forking out over £3000.

In reality, this was to be expected. Since its inception in 2017, the Laver Cup has grown from strength to strength as far as relevancy goes, doing so primarily by offering unique moments of player-to-player coaching rarely seen anywhere else. This is spearheaded by Federer and his rival-turned-business-bromance-partner Rafael Nadal. The two have played doubles together at the tournament and have been the faces of the Laver Cup as it has attempted to drag itself out from beneath accusations of being a glorified exhibition event. 

Indeed, a big step towards validation was taken when the ATP accepted the Laver Cup as a formal tour event back in 2019. It finally really mattered because those in charge of the actual ATP said it did. We cared because they were telling us that we should. We should watch because it was on and it was now proper tennis.

And so we did. Regardless of what you make of the Laver Cup, it’s been a success in terms of seemingly managing to turn itself into something many doubted it could be: an actual permanent thing. The fact that the initial plan for it – to bring tennis to places that don’t necessarily have easy access to the sport – seems to have fallen by the wayside doesn’t really seem to matter to those whose pockets are being lined.

We can only imagine then that Federer will be doing everything in his power to be able to play at this year’s edition after missing out in 2021. The 20-time major winner’s presence will be relied on a lot for ticket sales here, especially currently with no formal line-up announced outside Federer and 21-time major champ Nadal. Perhaps they alone are seen as enough to encourage tennis fans to shell out for the Laver Cup. Two of the biggest names in tennis history, right? That should be enough for you to be tempted to sink willingly into your overdraft, right? You could sell your grandmother’s jewellery and come, right?! Right?!

It might well be that Federer is planning on this iteration of the Laver Cup playing a significant role in the swan-song of his career. With question marks being polished to a fine-shine every day over when we could see the Maestro on court again, it’s this uncertainty that bosses will be hoping to drive sales up and up. 

“HOW MANY MORE TIMES MIGHT YOU GET TO SEE FEDERER IN ACTION?! DON’T DELAY, CONFIRM YOUR TICKET TODAY!”

***

Let’s be realistic and say that the Laver Cup 2022 will probably sell-out. London is a city with a love affair with tennis and an abundance of upper-class fans willing to part ways with their cash in order consume it. Growing the sport for future generations by presenting ageing legends outlasting their younger opposition is an interesting tactic but when those legends are Federer and Nadal, I guess that it works.

Let me stress here that it’s perfectly OK to charge a lot to attend your event. It’s absolutely OK to do that, especially if you know that people will come. People will be there and people will cheer you and people will be happy, both in the stands and on the court and good energy will undoubtedly be created by it all. Just don’t pretend to be catering to anyone outside of a certain pay-grade when you’re not. It’s an elite event with an elite price tag that’s fun for the elite players and elite fans that can be there and – at its best – an enjoyable watch on TV for the rest of us.

Many – including myself – will not be able to attend the Laver Cup in person this year. Many – including myself – will complain at length about the ticket prices of it and campaign for the event to do more to achieve what it set out to do in the first place. Many – including myself – will label it a cash-grab, a way for only money to be made under a guise of funny side-show giffable fun-loving tennis content. And many – including myself – will still be grumbling about it as we sit down to watch the first day of Laver Cup action on our TV screens later this year.

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