Masterstroke: Federer lifts Team Europe to a 7-1 lead
Roger Federer produced a masterful display against Nick Kyrgios to give Team Europe a 7-1 lead over Team World after Saturday’s afternoon session at Laver Cup 2018.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion won 6-3 6-2 at Chicago’s United Center to extend Europe’s lead as they chase down the 13 points that will retain the Cup.
Alexander Zverev had earlier saved a match point on his way to beating John Isner, a result that saw the overall score move from a potential 3-3 to 5-1 in Europe’s favor.
Federer drove home the advantage in brilliant style, a succession of flourishing winners drawing gasps around an arena once used to watching Michael Jordan in his NBA pomp.
The home crowd were also keen to see a World revival, and roared their approval of two magical Kyrgios winners in game six, but the Australian could not get a foothold in Federer’s service games.
The Swiss was untroubled as he cleaned up the first set after getting the decisive break at 3-1 with a sweeping backhand, and he found a different gear at the start of the second.
A string of winners brought Federer another service break to love and had the likes of Novak Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov standing and applauding on the blue bench.
Federer had spoken on Friday of his disappointment at losing the doubles with Djokovic, as it ended his unbeaten record at Laver Cup, and he was not about to contemplate a second defeat.
Team World’s frustration came to the boil when both captain John McEnroe and Kyrgios rounded on the umpire over a call, as Federer waited, smiling at the opposite end of the court.
It proved only a brief delay to an express performance from Federer, the end coming in clinical fashion after 65 minutes.
Team World will now hope to start the fightback in Saturday’s evening session, with Kevin Anderson opening against Djokovic before Jack Sock and Kyrgios face Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin in doubles.
“I’m very, very happy,” Federer told the crowd.
“I felt good from the beginning of the match and that’s not usual. Usually you need matches to get going and play your best in the third round or quarters of a tournament.
“Today, just from the beginning it was great, I played to my game plan, had wonderful support from my team and you guys. I really enjoyed myself.”
Federer also revealed he had taken inspiration from the giant jersey of Chicago Bulls legend Jordan hanging from the roof of the United Center.
“It gave me a lift but not an idea to retire,” said Federer. “I don’t want to do that.
It’s such a privilege to play here, where Michael Jordan had so much success – Roger Federer
“It’s such a privilege to play here, where Michael Jordan had so much success, it means a lot to me. We’re so happy to have the Laver Cup here in Chicago, what a great sports city.”