Team World occupies a new place this year: defending Laver Cup champion. Last year’s run to the title was a pleasing breakthrough for captain John McEnroe. Four of McEnroe’s charges pursuing the title defense are Americans, including three who reached the quarterfinals or better at the US Open: Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, and semifinalist Ben Shelton. Rounding out the squad: American Tommy Paul, Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime and Argentine Francisco Cerundolo.

Taylor Fritz: Off the Heels of An Excellent Effort

Following a run of four consecutive earlier-than-anticipated exits at Grand Slam events, Fritz recently played excellent tennis at the US Open, reaching the quarterfinals without the loss of a set before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. Fritz this year has also won titles at Delray Beach and Atlanta. Now ranked eighth in the world, Fritz savors his position as America’s top-ranked men's player.

The 25-year-old first emerged on the ATP Tour with a big serve and forceful groundstrokes. But in recent years, under the guidance of coach Michael Russell, Fritz has put in significant time to improve his fitness and movement. Another member of Fritz’s team, Paul Annacone, has also been a key source of wisdom. This will be Fritz’s third go at Laver Cup, a journey that includes a win in 2019 over Dominic Thiem, and one last year versus Cam Norrie.

Vice captain Patrick McEnroe finally has his hands on the Laver Cup, and isn't ready to let it go.

Vice captain Patrick McEnroe finally has his hands on the Laver Cup, and isn't ready to let it go.


Frances Tiafoe: Lives for These Occasions

Be it the chance to heartily cheer on his teammates, electrify a crowd with a brilliant shot sequence, or come through under pressure, world No. 11 Tiafoe is a Laver Cup natural.

In last year’s Team World championship run, Tiafoe delivered the goods on two occasions. On day one of the competition, in a fantastic and historic doubles encounter, he and Jack Sock defeated Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in what the entire world knew would be Federer’s final match. Two days later, it all came down to Tiafoe versus Stefanos Tsitsipas. After losing the opening set, 6-1, Tiafoe saved four match points to win the second set in a tiebreaker, 13-11—and then took the decisive Super Tiebreaker, 10-8. Since then, the 25-year-old Tiafoe has won singles titles on clay and grass, advanced to the quarterfinals of the US Open, and also represented the U.S. in Davis Cup.

Ben Shelton: A Passion for Team Play

Here’s a Laver Cup newcomer born for team play. Shelton’s father and coach, former pro Bryan Shelton, was also a college coach, leading Ben’s Florida team to the NCAA championship in 2021. The next year, Ben won the NCAA singles title. After turning pro in the summer of 2022, this expressive lefthander has rocketed up the ranks. In January, on the first trip of his life outside the United States, Shelton reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

But from February until late August, Shelton played 18 ATP tournaments and did not once win consecutive matches. Then, at his home Slam, Shelton went all the way to the semis, a run that included wins over Paul and Tiafoe. That effort took him to a current career-high ranking of No. 19. Though a big lefty serve is the 20-year-old Shelton’s most obvious weapon, more revealing is his appetite for all-court tennis—from cracking heavy forehands to frequently charging the net.

Shelton has now reached the quarterfinals or better twice in his first five Grand Slams played.

Shelton has now reached the quarterfinals or better twice in his first five Grand Slams played.


Tommy Paul: Portrait of the Artist as a Team Player

It’s extremely rare for tennis players to compete in team events back-to-back. But that’s the case this week for the 26-year-old Paul, who earlier this month played Davis Cup in Croatia. A Laver Cup rookie, Paul reached a career-high ranking of No. 13 in August, and is still holding that spot following a run to the round of 16 at the US Open. One of his wins in New York came over Team Europe member Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, where Paul took the first two sets, 6-1, 6-0, before closing it out in four.

At its best, Paul’s game as versatile as it gets in contemporary pro tennis, a fluid cascade of big shots and forward movement, enhanced by a crisp serve and fine feel at the net. All of these shots have helped the 26-year-old American earn two wins over Carlos Alcaraz.

Felix Auger-Aliassime: Can Laver Cup Turn Around His Year?

A year ago at Laver Cup, Auger-Aliassime helped spark Team World’s title run by earning two big wins on the same day. First, on the last day of competition, he partnered with Sock to beat Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini. Immediately after that came a singles victory over Djokovic. That was just one of many great moments Auger-Aliassime had in a breakthrough ’22 that saw him win four singles titles, extend Rafael Nadal to five sets at Roland Garros, and attain a career-high ranking of six in the world.

It's been a lot tougher in 2023. Not since March has Auger-Aliassime won two straight matches. At Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, he was beaten in the first round. So perhaps, just as last year Auger-Aliassime helped turn things around for Team World, perhaps playing Laver Cup will change the direction of what’s likely been the most frustrating period of this 23-year-old Canadian’s career.


Francisco Cerundolo: A Rapid Rise

It’s been a remarkable two years for Cerundolo. At the end of 2021, he was ranked 127th in the world. By last December, he’d soared up to 30th. And this past June, the 25-year-old Argentine reached a career-high of 19th. Currently ranked 21st, Cerundolo is making his Laver Cup debut.

Over the course of 2023, Cerundolo has generated terrific results across surfaces. During the European clay-court season, he reached the finals in Lyon. Soon after, at Roland Garros, Cerundolo beat Fritz on the way to the round of 16, where he lost an epic to Holger Rune in a fifth-set tiebreaker. Then came a title run on the grass at Eastbourne, Cerundolo defeating Paul in the final. As you’d expect from someone raised on clay, Cerundolo’s groundstrokes are formidable, particularly off the forehand side.