Why are the Laver Cup pitches painted black?

Last updated on 23 September 2022 at 14:57 (UK time)

In recent years, tennis tournaments have evolved into more than just sporting events – they have become a brand. And the Laver Cup is no exception in this regard. As part of this branding, there is a tennis court that sets the event apart from others.

The French Roland Garros is known for its red clay courts, the Rolex Paris Masters painted its playing surface “Rolex green”, or the WTA Lyon tournament wanted to add pink to the atmosphere.

The first-ever Laver Cup introduced black pitches in 2017. It has since become a tradition and part of the tournament’s branding.

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First hand explanation

In 2017, tournament director Steve Zacks spoke to the media explaining the reason for choosing black for the courts:

“We worked hard to deliver the blackest pitch ever delivered. We made a very special paint and tested it three times under the light. It will present beautifully.”

In the 2019 edition, he confirmed his decision, adding: “We needed a color that stood out. The US Open is blue, the French Open is red clay, Wimbledon is green and purple, and the Australian Open is blue and white. Nobody was black.”

It’s all about the brand’s perspective and style

In addition to the unique format itself (two teams of six players with a team captain), the use of black pitches increases brand awareness and instantly creates associations with the Laver Cup.

According to Zacks, they spent more than two years conducting the study. It took three surface trials to define the color and six trials for the pace of the pitch before finding the right formula. To reduce the speed of the field, it was necessary to add sand to make the rallies more prominent. However, it was imperative not to add too much to mix the black.

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Moreover, both spectators watching the game on TV at home and in the stadium would be able to follow the yellow-green ball on a black background.

Black tennis courts add style and elegance to the entire tournament concept. Federer once said in an interview with the New York Times, “The black court is the center of a really cool, modern look that’s such a big part of how people identify with the Laver Cup.”

To celebrate the fifth Laver Cup this year, the pitches of London’s O2 arena were also painted black.

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The 20,000-seat arena was almost completely sold out ahead of the announcement that the tournament would be Federer’s last appearance on the court. Shortly after the news, the price of the remaining morning session on Friday soared to between £700 and £800 per ticket. The only chance to see the players was the open practice on Thursday, where 22-35 pounders were fairly affordable options.

Other colors of the Laver Cup

Both teams have their own official colors. Team Europe is defined in blue and Team World in red. The contrast of the bright blue and red color adds great visualization to the tournament.

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Day 1 of the Laver Cup

Three singles matches and one doubles match will be played on the first day of play.

Casper Square is facing Jack Sock. Then Stefanos Tsitsipas will compete Diego Schwartzman. In the evening session, Andy Murray plays against Alex de Minaur.

Rounding off the Day 1 schedule is the doubles match Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe. This match will be the last of Federer’s career.