When the Laver Cup London 2022 tickets was announced earlier in the Spring, my brother was interested in getting tickets to the tournament. He is a big tennis fan and an active recreational tennis player. Although there was no guarantee at the time, he was also hoping that he could see Roger Federer in a live match. After all, Federer is considered a greatest of all time (“GOAT”) tennis player with 20 grand slams under his belt. However, he had been plagued by injuries and knee surgeries and had not competed since the 2021 Wimbledon quarter-finals. My brother was hoping to see him play in person, before he retires.
Even though the lineup wasn’t announced, we decided to commit to the trip across the pond. Even if Roger won’t be playing, there will be other top players competing. On a super early morning (GMT time) when the ticketing window opened up, we got up early to buy tickets on the official site. There were individual session and multi-session tickets. We ended up buying 2 multi-session tickets – 2 seats for all 5 sessions (held across 3 days) at the O2. It didn’t matter who was in the lineup or who’s playing when. My brother was interested in all 5 sessions, and we would split the second seat on those sessions between my sis, my mom and myself.
The Top Players, in Perspective:
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic won a total of 63 grand slams between the 3 of them, with 20, 22, and 21 wins respectively, as of this writing. There are only 4 grand slam tournaments per year. If you take the total number of wins and divided by the number of grand slam tournaments per year, that is almost 16 years in which these top players have dominated in their sport. That is very impressive if you think about that way.
I too am a tennis fan, admittedly less fervently than my brother. I remembered enjoying the tennis rivalry back in the day between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Then Federer came on the scene, winning his first grand slam in 2003 at Wimbledon, and “Rafa” winning his debut grand slam at the French Open in 2005.
I’ve always liked watching Roger Federer play. He is competing at the highest level, yet he plays with an ease and a grace that makes it like look so “effortless”. There’s a beauty in mastering a skill and make it “look” so easy. In fact, this article sums up what I think is Federer’s style of play. “Sprezzatura” – the “art of accomplishing something, especially something difficult, while hiding the effort that went into it behind a facade of nonchalance or ease.”
Then again, I also like Rafa Nadal’s style of play. He plays with grit, chasing after balls or winning back games that seemed improbable at times. I like the effort that goes into winning a hard-fought match, so I know this tournament would be a treat with all 3 top players participating.
Staying in London
We stayed at the Hilton London Canary Wharf for this trip. I was beyond impressed with the hotel and their exceptional service. I will write more about the hotel stay/experience in a separate post. Location wise – it’s very easy to get to the O2. You can walk from the hotel to the Canary Wharf Station (on the Jubilee line) in under 10 minutes, and get off in one stop at the North Greenwich station, which takes you right to the doorsteps of the O2 arena.
In fact, we decided to travel light so we even took the Tube from the airport to the Canary Wharf station. Granted, it’s not our first time in London and my brother even lived there for a period of time, so we’re familiar with the Tube. We got some assistance in purchasing a 7 day travel (Osyster) card that would get us anywhere between Zone I and Zone 2, and we were on our way.
There was a lot of excitement leading up to the Laver Cup this year, when Federer announced his retirement. The sports world was excited that Federer and Nadal were teaming up to play in a doubles match.
The “Fan Zone” welcomed visitors to the Laver Cup once you step out of the Tube station. There were food trucks and activities. There was also an official Laver Cup merchandise shop at the entrance of the arena, though there was a queue at most hours.
There were fun activities for fans too, including a station that measures your serve speed. Some of the pros can serve with a speed near 120 mph. At this station, it’s measured in kilometers per hour. There is always a line at this station. Of course, I stepped in to give it a shot and have some fun, and well, let’s just say I walked away just a teeny tiny bit red-faced. Then again, I never said I was any good at serves (Ha!)
They also set up this little space for tennis fans to hit around. “Mini-tennis” as I like to call it.
Inside the O2 Arena
You have to go through a round of security if you have bags to get into the O2 arena. It’s my first visit at the O2, but it’s really just a big shopping and entertainment area with plenty of restaurants to choose from, a movie theater, shops, and the stadium.
Not surprisingly, there was company branded placements in the Fan Zone and inside the arena.
This is a signage near the entrance of the O2 arena. The Laver Cup takes place every year after the US Open. The next one will be hosted in Vancouver, followed by Berlin.
Suite ticket holders can enter the stadium located at the front of the O2 entrance. Those with tickets on the upper levels enter through another entrance a short stroll down the mall.
Thankfully, there isn’t another airport style round of security checks to get into the stadium. That makes things more seamless.
Once inside, the stadium isn’t too different from other concert arenas. Merchandise, food and drinks are available for purchase. I have to note that we broke a record here – a hot dog was about 10 British pound. It was a large hot dog, but it was also one of the most expensive I’ve ever had, anywhere. Tip: You are not allowed to bring food to the arena. If you are going to eat, eat at one of the restaurants beforehand or plan to pay high prices at the concession stands.
Laver Cup Tennis Match
The O2 stadium was impressive with its lighting and sound systems. I attended the US Open in New York (outdoor and at balcony section), so I wasn’t sure what to expect for an indoor match with better seating. It was actually surprisingly fun to watch tennis here. It’s quiet. You can hear the play and even hear the sneakers shuffling. You don’t have to worry about the weather element.
Each session consists of two matches, and each match is a best of 3. We split the sessions so that I get a morning and evening session. In reality, the daytime/evening sessions made little difference. Once inside the arena with its lighting and atmosphere, it feels like an evening session, regardless of the time of day.
My sis and I joked about doing a “rock, paper, scissor” to see who would get to watch a Federer/Nadal match. Being the older sister that she is, she conceded the Friday session while she gets the Sunday session (with trophy presentation). She ended up also getting to see Tom Hiddleston (for non-Marvel fans, he plays the character Loki in the Marvel universe), who did the coin toss for one of the matches.
For Federer’s farewell match, he teamed up with Nadal playing doubles on Team Europe, playing against Sock/Tiafoe on Team World. It was a tight race (2+ hour match) to the finish. Federer/Nadal lost the final set.
I captured one of the game plays from my vantage point here.
After the match, Federer came out to acknowledge the crowd. The live speech, the energy and the outpouring of fan’s support was amazing. You can watch his speech here. It was also heartwarming to see both Federer’s tennis rivalry and the friendship with Nadal evolved over time. We know that Nadal flew into London just to team up on the farewell match with Federer, as he withdrew from the tournament after that match due to personal reasons. He was not present at the Saturday session.
To celebrate his retirement, the organizer surprised him and the fans by bringing in English singer-songwriter, Ellie Goulding,with two song performances. She performed her singles, “Still Falling for You”, followed by “Burn”. Federer hugged his teammates and those around him. His wife, Mirka and their kids, also made an appearance. It was very touching.
I captured a very short clip of Federer waving to the crowd as he waves goodbye to his fans after his epic 24 years career in tennis.
The evening session kicked off at 7pm with the singles match. By the time it was said all said and done, it was close to 1am. It was a long night, but what an amazing, amazing way to see a GOAT end his career.
Did you attend the Laver Cup 2022? If so what was your most memorable experience at the event? Have you visited other tournaments that you still remembered fondly?
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