We have to acknowledge — as people who follow tennis — that a new event’s first year won’t necessarily determine how well the event fares, or how much stature it can attain. First years are certainly very important because they leave a first impression and therefore begin to shape attitudes among the public, but they can’t always be viewed as clear indicators of how an event will evolve.
The inaugural ATP Cup in Australia is a perfect example of the need to not judge an event by its first year. The brushfires sweeping through large portions of the Australian continent are much more than a distraction — they represent a crisis AND a public health threat. Judging the first ATP Cup by the crowd size in these scary and adjusted circumstances doesn’t seem remotely fair. We would all like to judge the ATP Cup on its raw merits, but these fires have gotten in the way of that project.
It’s not fun, but it’s reality, and we have to face up to that.
Nevertheless, the show goes on, and if one was to identify the moment when the ATP Cup roared into life, it was Novak Djokovic’s 7-6, 7-6 win over Kevin Anderson on Saturday.
The match had passion. It had intensity. It was precisely the kind of match which indicates that players have bought into a new event. This is what the first Laver Cup showed in 2017 in Prague. It is the biggest reason an event can be taken seriously. The players make the event what it is; by their reactions, their emotions, their responses, we can judge an event, instead of imposing our views on the action. The players tell us what they think.
Djokovic and Anderson made a loud statement.
It is notable that Djokovic and Anderson have played competitive and interesting matches in “Cups” before. Their singles match at the 2018 Laver Cup in Chicago was extremely compelling and full of quality. Now they have dipped into another “Cup” and given the rest of the tennis world something pleasant to drink from.
The ATP Cup can’t be judged strictly on the merits, given the fires in Australia, but Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson certainly gave this new event the boost it needed.
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