Passion play: Team World takes Laver Cup lead after Sock, Isner victory
Team World took the lead for the first time at Laver Cup 2018 thanks to a gripping doubles victory for John Isner and Jack Sock over Team Europe’s Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev in Chicago.
The American pair saved two match points as they won 4-6 7-6(2) 11-9 to give Team World an 8-7 lead on the final day, with three points for a win and 13 required to take the trophy.
Federer and Isner will return to court straight away for the first of a potential three singles matches at the United Center.
Isner will hope to carry the momentum that has brought World back from 7-1 behind on Saturday afternoon to leading with three matches left to play.
It looked as though Europe would reassert control when Federer and Zverev dominated the early stages, taking the first set thanks to a beautiful Zverev lob on break point.
With the blue shirts edging towards victory in the second set, an increasingly partisan Chicago crowd played their part in energizing the World players and bench.
A huge groan filled the arena when Isner leaked a forehand wide on their first break point of the match, but the Americans were on the front foot and raced away with the tiebreaker to level the scores.
A match tiebreaker was required and this time it was Europe who made the early running, edging 6-4 clear when Sock put a volley over the baseline.
Novak Djokovic was on his feet, urging his teammates on when Isner framed a forehand to put the Cup holders 8-5 up, before a terrific Sock forehand winner cut the deficit to 8-7.
That was epic, you guys were absolutely amazing, holy cow – Jack Sock
It fell to Federer to try and close it out on serve, but this time Isner lined up a forehand down the line and made it before a sharp Sock volley levelled up at 9-9, and had McEnroe, the red bench and the whole United Center roaring their approval.
The sound had barely died down when it went up a few more decibles as Isner hammered down an ace for match point, and the comeback was complete when Zverev sent a backhand long, prompting leaping World players to mob their victorious teammates.
“That was epic, you guys were absolutely amazing, holy cow,” Sock told the crowd. “The first lead in Laver Cup history for Team World, that feels amazing.”
“We played the GOAT in our sport and a guy who’s extremely solid in the top five in the world, so I’m not sure how much we were favourites. We kept our heads up all weekend after being down early.”
Asked if his doubles partner could now take down Federer in singles, Sock added: “Hell yeah.”