ESPN International has picked up the exclusive rights to broadcast live the upcoming Laver Cup tennis event across Brazil, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Disney-owned network has signed a three-year deal with the organisers of the event, which has been dubbed ‘the Ryder Cup of tennis’ and will see top male players from Europe take on their counterparts from the rest of the world.
The agreement begins with the inaugural edition of the event, which will take place from 22nd to 24th September in Prague, Czech Republic, and runs until 2019.
The Laver Cup, named in honour of Australian tennis great Rod Laver, will pit six of the top men’s tennis stars from Europe, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, against a six-strong World team featuring the likes of Milos Raonic and John Isner. The teams will be captained by Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe respectively.
“The Laver Cup will give our fans the unique opportunity to witness the game’s biggest rivals participating instead as teammates,” said Tim Bunnell, the senior vice president of production, programming, marketing and advertising sales at ESPN International.
“It is a superb addition to our unparalleled portfolio of tennis rights in Latin America, and we are ecstatic to be a part of it from the start “.
According to organisers, the inaugural edition of the Laver Cup, to be held at Prague’s O2 Arena, has already sold out, and is the fastest-selling event in the venue’s history.
The event format will see three singles and one doubles match played each day over the course of three days, with points awarded for each match. Staged on a hard court in a retractable roof stadium or indoor arena, it will take place every year, two weeks following the US Open, except in Summer Olympic years.
Next year’s edition will be held at a yet-to-be-announced venue in the US, before returning to Europe in 2019.
Other players signed up to feature this year include Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, Tomas Berdych, Jack Sock and Sam Querrey.
The Laver Cup is spearheaded by TRIDENT8, an affiliate of Federer's Team8 Global management company, and Tennis Australia, and is being jointly backed by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and Brazilian billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann.
Other broadcasters already signed up for the event include Tennis Channel in the US and the UK’s Sky Sports.