Team Europe tightened their grip on the early stages of Laver Cup 2018 as David Goffin made it 3-0 with a dramatic victory over Team World’s Diego Schwartzman in Chicago.
The defending champions took another step towards the winning total of 13 points thanks to the Belgian’s 6-4 4-6 11-9 win in Match 3.
Schwartzman looked capable of cutting the deficit after earlier defeats for Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock had put the home side in trouble, but the Argentine could not capitalize on a second-set comeback.
Despite earning two match points in the decisive tiebreaker, Schwartzman could not convert and it was Goffin who leapt in celebration at a remarkable win.
Europe captain Bjorn Borg had earlier joked that he was looking for a 4-0 scoreline from day one – that will become a reality if Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic beat Jack Sock and Kevin Anderson in the doubles.
Goffin kept his composure in increasingly hostile territory as Schwartzman’s battle to bring the home side back into the contest gripped the United Center crowd, and energized his teammates.
The Belgian’s unerring accuracy brought him four straight games and with it the opening set, but Schwartzman went ahead early in the second and began to ride the wave of support coming down from the stands.
He needed two chances to serve out the set but Schwartzman leveled after an hour and a half to earn a shot at victory in the match tiebreaker.
By now the red jackets of Team World were swarming around the bench after every winner, while the choreographed celebrations were becoming more extravagant as a vital first point came into sight.
Things were a little more measured on the blue side of the sofas as Federer, Grigor Dimitrov and Jeremy Chardy led the support for Goffin.
Team World had suffered in the first tiebreaker of the day when Sock lost to Kyle Edmund, and they were in trouble again as Schwartzman leaked early errors to fall 5-1 behind.
Again, Goffin came under pressure as his lead was cut to 7-5 and the decibel level went through the roof as Schwartzman reeled off six straight points to stand on the brink of an incredible win.
Goffin called on all his Davis Cup experience as he held his nerve, seeing off the danger and taking advantage of his first match point when a Schwartzman forehand looped over the baseline.
“It was an amazing atmosphere,” said the Belgian. “I had to stay focused.”