WATCH—Tennis Channel Live talks about the 2018 Laver Cup:
It consisted of an all-time great shot, and a reaction that was almost as good.
The shot came from Federer. At 3-3 in the third set, Kyrgios flipped a forehand at a short angle crosscourt. The ball bounced wide of the doubles alley, and it looked as if Federer wouldn’t be able to reach it. But his long strides and long reach got him there just in time to flick a forehand about a foot above the court surface, around the net at a diagonal angle, and into Kyrgios’ side of the court for a winner. It looked less like a ball being hit than a stone skidding across water. It will probably go down as the biggest highlight-reel shot Federer has hit at the Open since the tweener winner he sent past Novak Djokovic here in 2009.
OMG(????Eurosport) pic.twitter.com/YnaNMUKh33— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) September 1, 2018
(????Eurosport) pic.twitter.com/QMNYEycGry— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) September 1, 2018
The reaction? That came from Kyrgios. Stunned, he was still smiling and shaking his head when he set up to serve the next point.
“That’s probably the greatest shot I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Unlike that moment, however, the match—a 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 win for Federer in an hour and 44 minutes—was not one to remember.
The best of it came in the first set. Kyrgios came out firing aces, holding at love, and bounding forward on his returns. He was into it. At 3-3, he went up 0-40 on Federer’s serve and eventually held four break points.
By then, the match had settled into a briskly confrontational pace. A “Come on!” from Federer was matched by one from Kyrgios, as the two traded winners. For a moment, I imagined a world where Kyrgios always played like this. It was a nice thought.
But it was hardly a realistic thought. Instead of turning the match in his favor, that 3-3 game marked the end of Kyrgios’ chances, and of the competitive part of the match. Federer saved all four break points, held, and then, at 5-4, broke Kyrgios with a slyly sliding slice backhand return winner. The set was his, and the match soon followed. Kyrgios berated his team on his way to his chair, and lamented not having a coach. From there, Federer took complete control, while Kyrgios went through the motions.
Federer hit 16 aces and 51 winners against just 24 errors, and he was never broken. He said he had trouble finding a rhythm on his backhand early, but he was happy that his level had improved as the match went on. He had particular success with a shot that Kyrgios specializes in, the backhand drop, and he was a highly efficient 21 of 25 at the net.
Early in the first set, Kyrgios imitated Federer’s service motion, and then won the point with that serve. In the end, though, he was no match for the original.
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