The Laver Cup has done everything in its power to brand itself as a non-exhibition, pitting some of the world's best players against each other and fostering a genuine team atmosphere. There's been buy-in from the players, the fans and the ATP. That, combined with a suprisingly close competition—Team Europe needed to win the last two singles matches to eek out a 13-11 victory—made for some seriously compelling television over the weekend.
But the best part of the event was listening to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal coach their teammates. And, even more so, each other.
On the first day of competition on Friday, Federer laid into world No. 11 Fabio Fognini, urging him to put aside the negative thoughts.
It wasn't the most successful pep-talk, as Fognini was defeated by world No. 210 Jack Sock. But on Saturday, with Roger Federer down a set to Nick Kyrgios, Rafael Nadal brought out some statistics to help his longtime rival/buddy engineer a comeback.
Federer ended up winning the match 6-7, 7-5, 10-7 to give his heavily favored Europe side a 5-3 lead.
Nadal continued his coaching on Saturday, instructing the doubles team of Federer/Stefanos Tsitsipas as they took on the American duo of John Isner/Jack Sock.
Nadal was initially scheduled to pair with Federer in that match but pulled out with a left wrist injury. Tsitsipas and Federer lost in a decisive third-set tiebreaker, giving Team World its first lead of the matches.
During the final, decisive singles match between Alexander Zverev and Milos Raonic, Federer cursed—Federer cursed!—while imploring Zverev to show some positive body language.
Hearing Federer and Nadal—combined Grand Slam titles: 39—give passionate and intelligent advice has been a fascinating glimpse into just how much thinking and strategizing goes into both of their games. Due to the nature of normal events, where coaching isn't allowed, these pep-talks take place in their own minds.
Good on the Laver Cup for not just allowing coaching, but making sure microphones pick up the contents of the conversations and broadcasting the compelling content to fans.