Preview: Can Europe hold back the Red engine?
Team World will have the chance to take the lead for the first time at Laver Cup 2018 when Jack Sock and John Isner open the final day of action against Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev in the doubles.
Defending champions Team Europe lead 7-5 after the second day of action in Chicago, with Team World once again fighting back in the evening session to close the gap from 7-1.
With three points available for a win on Day 3, Europe will need two victories from Sunday’s four matches and World must find three wins to pass the 13 point-mark that will secure the trophy.
“I’m feeling a little bit better now than I was a few hours ago,” Team World vice-captain Patrick McEnroe said on Laver Cup Up Late after Saturday’s dramatic four sessions.
We like our chances going into Day 3 – Patrick McEnroe
“When I walked out I felt like tonight was the night, the guys were really committed and they were going to give everything out there. We like our chances going into Day 3.”
The winner could be decided in Sunday’s second match when Federer and Isner make an immediate return to court for the first of the singles.
Should the contest still be alive, Zverev will take on Kevin Anderson in Match 11 before a potential Cup decider between Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios in Match 12.
Team Europe could move within one win of retaining the Laver Cup in Sunday’s doubles clash featuring Federer and Zverev against John Isner and Jack Sock.
The doubles opens the final day in Chicago, with a potential three singles matches to follow, meaning the initial pressure will be shared among four players rather than two – an idea that came from Federer himself.
“I think maybe my idea was to play the doubles first on Sunday,” said the Swiss.
“I just thought that would be a nice reverse situation, and it gets four guys out on the court early. I felt like we just need to make sure the first match on Sunday definitely has to be relevant.
“So far the concept has worked very well. And we didn’t believe it was going to be that close so often.
It feels like you’re never safe until two matches are basically played on Sunday – Roger Federer
“But it feels like you’re never safe until two matches are basically played on Sunday, which I think the spectators enjoy.”
Europe wary of Prague repeat
Memories of last year’s final day fightback by Team World remain fresh for Zverev, one of only two Team Europe players to have played in both Prague and Chicago.
The German maintained his unbeaten Laver Cup record with a stirring comeback against Isner on Saturday, and even before Team World’s recovery in the evening session he was warning against complacency.
“They lost three match tiebreaks so far,” said Zverev. “Two with having match points. So it’s actually very, very close. We’re not going to give them anything.
“Obviously there are a lot more matches to be played. A lot more points are going to be played out. You need 13 [points] to win this competition. A lot more stuff can happen.”
Zverev might be adding a formidable Laver Cup record to his already impressive resume but the 21-year-old is confident that teaming up with a new coach will bring better results in the Grand Slam tournaments in 2019.
“Obviously back to the Slam question, I just took Ivan [Lendl] as a team member,” said Zverev.
“I think it’s a process. Everyone thought I was going to win the US Open now, but it doesn’t work like that. It’s a process of putting in the work.
“I actually do believe that next year is going to be very exciting for me at the Grand Slams.”
Borg ‘chilling’ as McEnroe rolls back time
Just as in their playing days, the very different approaches of captains John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg remain captivating.
The American is as intense as ever, whether geeing up his players or, like in days of old, berating an umpire.
“What chance is he going to get that return back? 0.001%? Come on, man!” said McEnroe as Saturday’s official got on the wrong side of the seven-time Grand Slam winner during Federer’s win over Nick Kyrgios.
Sitting just a few feet away Borg was, unsurprisingly, unruffled.
“It all happened so quickly, I think for all of us involved there except Bjorn,” said a smiling Federer.
“Bjorn was relaxed. He was chilling on the bench.”
As talk turned to dealing with officials, Novak Djokovic later admitted that he had “been part of heated exchanges a couple of times with the chair umpires”.
He added: “I don’t deny that I was wrong in those arguments before. Some of them I was right. But in general I think that we should all be responsible for our actions.”
As for experiencing some classic McEnroe first-hand, one person who did learn something from the episode was Kyrgios.
“That he can go in on an umpire as well as I can,” said the Aussie was a grin.