The World strikes back: Sock and Anderson win doubles
Jack Sock and Kevin Anderson saw off the star-studded doubles pairing of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to bring Team World their first point of Laver Cup 2018 in Chicago.
American Sock and South Africa’s Anderson finally delivered the point their team sorely needed with a brilliant 6-7(5) 6-3 10-6 win in Match 4.
Team Europe will head into Day 2 with a 3-1 lead after singles wins for Grigor Dimitrov, Kyle Edmund and David Goffin as they chase down the 13 points that will retain the trophy.
Federer had managed to win on his first appearance alongside Rafael Nadal in doubles last year, but there was to be no repeat in his much-anticipated debut with Djokovic.
“A super-tiebreaker, anything can happen in those circumstances,” said Federer.
“I thought we actually played pretty good today again, like I did also with Rafa last year in terms of excitement. You know, it was similar for me, to be quite honest.”
I think we gelled pretty quick and got up against two great tennis players – Jack Sock
Djokovic said: “It was a great experience. I loved it. I was looking forward to it. Obviously I wanted to win as much as Roger did.
“But, you know, these guys came up with some big shots when it mattered. It was a lot of fun.”
The pair’s rustiness in the four-man format was apparent as early as the third game, when Wimbledon and US Open champion Djokovic drilled a ball into his illustrious partner’s back, prompting embarrassed laughter all around.
There might have been 34 Grand Slam titles on the blue side of the net but they have all come in singles, and the combination of Anderson’s power with Sock’s prowess as a three-time doubles major winner proved too much in the end.
“When you’re playing with a guy like Kevin with a bunch of weapons, takes the ball early, hits big return, which helps me at the net, I can kind of move around and be active up there,” said Sock.
“He has a cannon of a serve which makes my job easier at the net, and obviously great hands, as well, as you saw out there in some of those exchanges.
“I think we gelled pretty quick and got up against two great tennis players. I was happy we were able to pull it out in the end and get us on the board.”
A gripping first set came down to a tiebreaker and it was Europe who snatched it thanks to a razor-sharp volley from Federer on their first set point.
With a fourth defeat of the day looming, Team World captain John McEnroe was an animated figure courtside, while Nick Kyrgios could barely keep himself the right side of the lines as he urged on his teammates.
The red combination began to click and take control, Anderson’s huge serving backed up by some sharp volleying from both men, and after an hour and 20 minutes it came down to a match tiebreaker.
Team World had already lost two matches in deciders and a third might have proved a crushing blow, but Federer opened the door with a double fault at 4-4 and two big serves from Anderson edged the red shirts closer.
With the United Center crowd now in full voice and the red bench on their feet, Sock ripped a brilliant return winner past Federer to bring the home side a victory that leaves them 3-1 down, just as they were 12 months ago in Prague.