Out of the blue, Zverev and Europe seize the Laver Cup 13-8
Team Europe are Laver Cup champions once again after Alexander Zverev fought back to beat Kevin Anderson and clinch the winning points in Chicago.
Zverev came through 6-7(3) 7-5 10-7 in a match tiebreaker to seal a 13-8 victory for Europe, sparking wild scenes as the blue bench emptied with players racing to celebrate on court.
Twelve months on from their success at the inaugural Laver Cup in Prague, Zverev and Roger Federer were able to celebrate getting their hands on the trophy for a second time, while Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and Kyle Edmund were champions on debut.
“It was such a close match all around, not only this one but all weekend, a few points here and there and it could have been different,” said Zverev.
“I’m just happy to get the win and we defended the title, that’s the most important thing.
Team World went desperately close to forcing a deciding match between Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios, a remarkable effort after they fell 7-1 behind following Saturday’s afternoon session.
A dramatic doubles win for John Isner and Jack Sock, saving two match points against Zverev and Federer, put the reds in front for the first time on Sunday, and Isner then missed out in an epic clash with Federer that saw the American fail to convert three match points.
That left the destiny of the trophy in the hands of Zverev and he duly finished the job, but only after an almighty battle.
The German saw a couple of early break-point chances disappear, while Anderson racked up six opportunities without making the breakthrough.
Tiebreakers were always likely to be necessary, and it was the South African who grabbed the initiative in the opener, surging into a 6-2 lead and converting his second set point with a heavy backhand.
The second set looked to be following a similar pattern until Anderson had a golden opportunity at 0-40, but Zverev played himself out of trouble superbly, to the delight of his watching teammates.
When a net cord then took him to break point, the German stepped in and upped the intensity, drawing a backhand error as Anderson was finally broken.
With the scores level, another match tiebreaker came into play at the United Center, and it was another rollercoaster.
Anderson edged ahead several times, only to be repeatedly pegged back, and an unplayable Zverev lob shifted the momentum decisively.
In a tournament that had seen numerous match points go unconverted, Zverev made no mistake this time, falling back to the court as his teammates and captain piled on top of him in celebration.
“It’s been an unbelievable week,” said Borg.
This is actually my favorite week of the year
“This is actually my favorite week of the year. I’m very proud of my team, we knew it’s going to be very difficult to beat Team World with John as the captain. He has a great team, they’re very professional.”
McEnroe said: “I’d just like to congratulate Team Europe. It was a great effort, great match, unbelievably exciting.
“This team [World], I’m so proud of these guys. They’ve got great camaraderie and we’re going to win this one next year!”