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McEnroe: Laver Cup needs standalone time to attract top tennis players

John McEnroe John McEnroe - The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — Tennis great and Team World captain John McEnroe is sharing his frustration over what he see as a lack of cooperation and care from tennis organization officials when it comes to the Laver Cup.

Players like Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray -- who all played in last year's competition -- are all missing from the line-up this year due to scheduling issues or injuries.

The tournament also lacks a world No. 1 or single Grand Slam title winner and furthered suffered from the late withdraws of world No. 4 Holger Rune and world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas due to surgery or injury.

"Hopefully tennis realizes the gift it was given by having Rod Laver and Roger Federer associated with a team event like this," said McEnroe. "I think it would be a shame if this thing didn't continue to exist in the calendar.

"As a matter of fact, I think it needs more standalone time so that all players feel like it's not something, scheduling wise, that's an issue."

Scheduling has been highlighted as a problem in attracting big-name stars, with event co-founder Federer acknowledging it during a media availability earlier in the week.

"Obviously everybody was asked to play and we want all the best to play, but it wasn't possible with schedules and all that stuff. I was a tough guy as well when it came to scheduling. I was very rigorous about which tournaments I could play," he said.

But McEnroe said he believes the lack of care shown towards the tournament by tennis organizing officials follows a pattern he's seen throughout his career.

"It's too frustrating to have watch this over the course of my entire professional career watching tennis shoot themselves in the foot, in my opinion," he said. "Hopefully they won't do it with this, because I've seen them do it numerous other occasions."

Despite his misgivings over how the Laver Cup is currently treated, McEnroe said he still has hope for the future of the tournament, and for the young players such as Francisco Cerundolo, Ben Shelton and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

"I think this is a great test for an event I believe in," he said about the lack of marquee stars taking part. "We don't have these all-time legends but you could have future Grand Slam winners all over the place. They get a chance to sort of stand up."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.