Tennis legends, past and present .

Have you ever just wanted to see your favorite players face each other in a more relaxed setting? No points at stake and no blemishes on their records? Well look no further as the inaugural edition of the Laver Cup takes place this weekend in Prague, Czech Republic. It features the world’s best male tennis players, who shall compete in a Team World vs Team Europe format. The Laver Cup is to be held annually, two weeks from the conclusion of the year’s final Grand Slam; the US Open.

Australian Tennis Legend Rod Laver wavers to the crowd at the 02 Arena in Prague.

Named after Australian legend Rod Laver, the competition features six top European players against six of their non-European counterparts who shall represent Team World. There will be twelve best-of-three matches played over three days (nine singles and three doubles), with the number of points increasing each day. Therefore a Friday victory is worth one point, Saturday is worth two and Sunday winners get three points.

The competitors and team captains pose for a picture in Prague.

Team Europe is captained by Bjorn Borg, and includes Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych. Team World is captained by John McEnroe(how appropriate!) and it features Sam Querrey, John Isner, Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe. One would think that the barrage of injuries suffered this year would decimate the playing field, but there is undoubtedly lot of talent and star power present.

Rod Laver tosses a coin as Marin Cilic of Team Europe prepares to face Frances Tiafoe of Team World.

Cilic d Tiafoe 7-6(3) 7-6(1)

Croatian Marin Cilic kicked off proceedings, as he faced American Frances Tiafoe in a hard-hitting encounter. The veteran was able to hold off the 19 year old, claiming the match 7-6(3) 7-6(1) and securing the first point for his team. Tiafoe did acquire a break and led 4-1 in the second set, but was unable to consolidate and was soon broken back by the Croat. A double fault by Tiafoe to open the tiebreak saw momentum swing to Cilic, and he clinched the match with his final ace.

Thiem d Isner 6-7(15) 7-6(2) 10-7

The next match of the day saw Austrian Dominic Thiem take on American John Isner in what could be described as the match of the day. After claiming the first set for Team World 17-15, Isner was unable to prevent the young Austrian from turning the match around. Thiem employed his full arsenal of shots and incredible placement to keep the giant American on the run, although Isner did have his moments of brilliance.

Thiem rallied from behind to claim the second set in a tie-break, and the match went to a third set. A 10-point tiebreaker is used to determine a winner should that occur, and Isner raced to a quick 4-0 lead. Perhaps inspired by Federer and Nadal, who had given him words of advice during a changeover; Thiem fought back and won the match for his team. Team Europe now held a 2-0 lead.

Zverev d Shapovalov 7-6(3) 7-6(5)

A rematch from their encounter in Montreal a few weeks ago, these two young superstars kicked off the night session at the O2 Arena. Already touted as a future number one, Zverev may have found his rival in Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov. In a match of contrasting styles, Zverev’s solid groundstrokes were pitted against the superior volleying ability of his left-handed opponent.

Zverev utilized his huge forehand, backhand and big serves to topple his younger foe. The German’s experience was the deciding factor, having won two ATP Maters-1000 titles this year and risen to a career high of world number 4. He overpowered Shapovalov from the baseline and played the bigger points better, taking the close match in 1 hour 49 minutes.

Kyrgios/Sock d Nadal/Berdych 6-3 6-7(9) 10-7

Team Europe was in cruise control, and now had a 3-0 lead. The final match of the day featured some doubles action, as the peculiar pairing of Rafael Nadal and hometown favorite Tomas Berdych took on good friends Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock. The latter have in fact teamed together in doubles on several occasions, and their on-court chemistry was evident. They seized a break in the sixth game and soon claimed the first set 6-3 in 31 minutes.

The second set was a much closer encounter, with no breaks of serve. It soon went to a tiebreak, where Team World managed to save set points before falling to Nadal and Berdych.

It’s only appropriate that such a fun day of high quality tennis would end with a super tiebreak. At 7-7, Kyrgios and Sock obtained a mini-break and clinched the match in 1 hour 48 minutes; giving Team World their first win of the day.

With Team Europe now leading 3-1 and points being doubled for Saturday’s winners, the outcome is far from certain. There are numerous tantalizing match-ups still available, and fans will of course want to see a Federer/Nadal pairing in doubles. As of this writing, the schedule of play is yet to be released but you can rest assured that the matches will be entertaining. And more importantly, the players seem to be having fun; how can you not love this?

What pairings and match-ups would you love to see at the Laver Cup? Be sure to leave your thoughts below in the comments section, and follow us on www.tennis-pulse.com for continued coverage of the 2017 Laver Cup.