Laver Cup Day 3: Team Europe retains title after Zverev tops RaonicBy Sep 22, 2019
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Laver Cup Day 3: Team Europe retains title after Zverev tops Raonic
Team Europe had led 7-5 coming into the final day.
Published Sep 22, 2019
Follow the third day of the 2019 Laver Cup, throughout Sunday, here. After the second day of play, Team Europe—two-time defending champions—led Team World 7-5.
It came down to the wire after Team Europe forced a 12th-match decider. Team Europe was counting on Zverev, who had clinched the 2018 Cup for his team with a hard-fought win on Kyrgios, to pull it off again in a winner-takes-all battle against Raonic.
Even at 3-3 in the first set, the German drew first blood with a couple of forehand winners, breaking and consolidating to go up 5-3. He managed to hold his nerve to take the first set from the Canadian, 6-4.
After trading holds in the first five games of the second set, Raonic found an opening and broke, sending his teammates into a frenzy. Serving for the set, the 28-year-old Canadian found himself facing four break points in the nineth game before sending the match to a 10-point tiebreaker.
Having exchanged early mini-breaks in the decider, Zverev pulled ahead to clinch the match for Team Europe for the second consecutive time.
“Team World came once again very close but we won the right points and had maybe a little bit of luck,” said Borg. “I’m very proud of my team, they did a hell of a job. I’m a very happy captain.”
After losing two consecutive matches for the first time in the event’s history, Team Europe found themselves backed against the wall. They needed to win the next match in order to stay in contention.
Federer, a cool-under-pressure champion, came out of the gates strong, needing only one break against Isner to close out the set. Playing in front of the home crowd, the 38-year-old Swiss did not face a break point, taking the set in just 31 minutes.
In the seventh game of the second set, Federer failed to convert two break points that would have given him a 4-3 lead. Instead, he found himself facing a set point in the 11th game. The composed 20-time Grand Slam champion quickly erased it without dropping a sweat, sending the set to a tiebreak. to see Rafa on the sidelines after having to pull out with an injury, it’s great camaraderie I feel.”
Tied at 3-3 in the tiebreaker, teammate Nadal gave Federer some encouragement on the changeover, which helped the Swiss win the next four points to take the match to force a decider. He is now 6-0 in the event’s singles.
“I’m very excited,” said Federer. “What an atmosphere, what a match. I’m thrilled that I was able to give something back to the team. Obviously to see Rafa on the sidelines after having to pull out with an injury, it’s great camaraderie I feel.”
When the final day lineup was first announced, the second match of the day was supposed to feature Nadal vs. Nick Kyrgios. Then, it switched to Theim vs. Kyrgios after Nadal withdrew with an injury. Then, it switched, again, to Thiem vs. Fritz following Kyrgios’s withdrawal with a shoulder injury.
Fortunately for Team world, that pre-match drama didn’t affect their player Fritz, who helped his team jump out to a four-point lead. Having saved seven break points in the first set, the young American—who made his debut on Friday—broke Thiem in the 12th game to steal the set.
In the third game of fourth game of the second set, the Austrian dug himself out of a 0-40 situation level the set. Both players then held comfortable to take the match to a tiebreak. There, Thiem upped his game to give to score the second set.
Down 2-0 in the 10-point match tiebreaker, the 21-year-old California native reeled off the next six points to put himself firmly in the driver’s seat. A few points later, he came up through for his team, putting them one win away from their first-ever trophy win.
“That was such a big match for Team World to win, we really needed that,” said Fritz. “Now we’re four points in the lead, one match from the win. It was so crucial.
“This has to be one of the biggest wins of my career. It means so much more when you’re playing for other people as well.
Team Captain McEnroe echoed that sentiment.
“We’ve been battling ever since this Laver Cup started,” said McEnroe. “Expect the unexpected – here we are now, one more and we got this thing.”
In 2017, the world stopped to watch world Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the men with the most Grand Slam titles in tennis history, team up for the first time in their careers to play on the same side of the net at the inaugural annual event. Fans were hoping to see the reunion of the pairing today but, unfortunately, the Spaniard was replaced by Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Coming into the third and final day of the popular team competition, Team World had trailed by two points, 7-5. Things were not looking good for them as Isner and Sock, who had a 2-0 winning record, dropped the first set before rallying to defeat the home team. With the win, the visiting squad took over the lead for the first time in three days, 8-7—Sunday matches are worth three points.
“It feels great, the energy’s amazing and we’ve got a lead,” said Team World Captain John McEnroe.