Zverev takes over the World
Alexander Zverev gave a huge boost to Team Europe hopes of retaining the Laver Cup with a stunning comeback win over John Isner in Saturday’s opening singles match.
The German saved a match point as he won 3-6 7-6(6) 10-7 to stretch Europe’s lead over Team World to 5-1 in Chicago, with 13 points the ultimate target.
Two dramatic tiebreakers decided a thrilling match that had the United Center crowd riveted, and the two player benches leaping to their feet.
There are still plenty of matches to be played and points to be won, but with victories on Day 2 worth two points, and Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic next on the schedule for Europe, Zverev made sure his team remain in pole position.
“It was intense, a very high level as well. It’s never easy,” said Zverev. “We’ve got to do everything as a team as well, get the energy out, and it was a very special moment.”
We kind of wish the Laver Cup was on every week of the year – Alexander Zverev
Asked about playing an American in front of a Chicago crowd, Zverev added: “I love it. The atmosphere is unbelievable and we kind of wish the Laver Cup was on every week of the year.”
Isner looked on course to level the contest at 3-3 after a confident opening set, which he took with the only break of serve in game two, but Zverev worked his way into form in the second.
Serve was now dominant, and it came down to a tiebreaker to settle the second set – and potentially the third, with Laver Cup matches decided by 10-point match tiebreakers.
A terrific Zverev lob left Isner helpless on the opening point but the American would get his revenge moments later, flighting a backhand over the German’s head and following up with a sharp volley to break for 3-2.
Two huge serves gave Isner complete control and the crowd celebrated as a frustrated Zverev smacked his racket into the black court, but the German regained his composure and fought back to level at 5-5.
A match of small margins was now on a knife edge, Isner barrelling down a huge serve to earn a match point at 6-5, Zverev hitting back with a blistering backhand winner for 6-6.
Isner had a golden chance to earn a second match point with the court gaping only to dump a high volley into the net, and a fired-up Zverev then arrowed another beautiful backhand down the line before sprinting over to the bench to celebrate with his teammates.
Suddenly it was the blue bench that was energized and their man showed why he has become a top-5 fixture as he raced into a 4-0 lead in the match tiebreaker.
“Let’s go, John! Let’s go, John!” chanted the crowd as the American roared back to trail 7-6, but Zverev was not to be denied and when his chance to close it out arrived, the German converted his second match point with a return winner and fell to his knees in celebration.