Rublev was playing his first match as a Top 5 player, having risen to a career-high No. 5 last week following the US Open.

World No. 5 Andrey Rublev made a winning Laver Cup debut in Boston on Friday night, though it was anything but easy, as he had to battle back from the brink of defeat to make it past Diego Schwartzman in a match tie-break, 4-6, 6-3, 11-9.

The win put Team Europe ahead 3-0. Earlier, Casper Ruud beat Reilly Opelka, 6-3, 7-6 (4), and Matteo Berrettini edged Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 10-8.

“With these rules, with a third set super tie-break, you never know what’s going to happen, and today we’re a bit more lucky,” Rublev said after his one-hour, 50-minute victory over Schwartzman. “Matteo won a tough match in a super tie-break against Felix, and now you just saw my match, it was so close, and Diego was leading all through the super tie-break, but in the end I found a way to win, and it happens.

“This is tennis, this is sport—someone has to win, someone has to lose.”

Things looked dire for Rublev in the match tie-break—he found himself down 6-2, and though he managed to catch up to 6-5, Schwartzman stretched his lead again to 8-5, just two points from the win. But Rublev saved his best tennis for last, winning four points in a row to bring up his first match point at 9-8, and though he double faulted on that one, he eventually closed it out on his second match point after a wild 24-shot rally that ended with a forehand volley winner down the line from the Russian.


“Diego was playing amazing—especially from the middle of the first set, he started to play unbelievable,” Rublev said of the Argentine No. 1. “My teammates were just telling me, ‘Don’t rush, it’s okay, you still have a level to go. Take your time.’”

The Russian also took some time to thank all the fans.

“The atmosphere here tonight was amazing,” he said in his on-court interview.

“I want to say thank you so much you guys for coming to support your favorite players, your favorite teams. It means a lot to us.”

Schwartzman wasn’t the first player to come within points of putting Team World on the board with a singles win, with Auger-Aliassime coming within two points of beating No. 7-ranked Berrettini at 8-8 in the match tie-break—but the Italian snuck it out.

“Felix was playing really good, not giving me anything. No mistakes, serving really well,” Berrettini said. “I felt a different energy. I was playing for my team, not just for myself.”

In the last match of the day, the American-Canadian duo of John Isner and Denis Shapovalov scored a doubles victory over Italian-German duo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 10-1, cutting Team Europe's lead to 3-1 after Day 1.

Each win on Friday was worth one point on the overall Laver Cup leaderboard, and the stakes get higher and higher throughout the weekend—every win on Saturday will be worth two points, and every win on Sunday will be worth three points.

The first team to 13 points this weekend wins the 2021 Laver Cup.