Playing his first match in almost two and a half months, Novak Djokovic made a blistering return to action at the Laver Cup on Saturday night, needing just 72 minutes to defeat US Open semifinalist Frances Tiafoe in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3.

Djokovic hadn’t played a match since winning the Wimbledon final on July 10th, 76 days earlier, but there was absolutely no rust in sight as he not only held at love in the first game of the match, but ended up winning the first 18 points in a row he played on his serve—four love holds in a row en route to taking the first set, then, after breaking in the next game, going up 30-0 in his first service game of the second set at 6-1, 1-0.

Tiafoe broke the streak there, winning the next three points to bring up a break point to get back on serve, but Djokovic fended it off and held for 6-1, 2-0, and after the two traded holds for the next six games, the Serb broke one last time to seal the victory.

“I hadn’t played in a few months—my last match was the finals of Wimbledon in this city, down the road,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview to cheers from the crowd. “So I’m glad to continue the run. Pretty decent match from my side. I was seeing the ball very well, no doubt about it. I haven’t done many things wrong today.

“I couldn’t be happier with the return to the tour—winning for the team, of course, after a long day yesterday, a very emotional day. It wasn’t easy to restart the engines and step out on the court and do what you do in the best possible way, so I’m just very pleased with the performance and glad I brought another two points to the team.”


Djokovic was then asked about the night before—the last match of Roger Federer’s professional career, and all of the emotions that came with it.

“Well, I think we would all agree that this was one of the most beautiful moments that everyone has experienced live, or on the TV, or on the tennis courts, worldwide, of all time,” Djokovic said. “I think we all knew that it was going to be an emotional farewell for Roger, but I think we were all taken away by the moment.

“At the same time it’s kind of a mix of emotions. Sadness because one of the greatest athletes of all time is leaving the sport, but on the other hand seeing him happy with the way it all played out—and I was just grateful, really, and privileged to be alongside other Team World and Team Europe players to witness that.

“It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced in my life for sure.”

And in a career full of milestones, Djokovic got another milestone with his win over Tiafoe—it was his first career win at the Laver Cup. In his only previous appearance at the team event, in 2018, he went 0-1 in singles (falling to Kevin Anderson) and 0-1 in doubles (playing alongside Federer, falling to Anderson and Jack Sock).