Inside Team Europe: Strong start despite ‘bad coaching’
Playing at the Laver Cup means performing not only for yourself, but also for your legendary teammates.
Team Europe’s Fabio Fognini might have lost his match against Team World’s Jack Sock, but he had plenty of input from both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal along the way.
The Swiss star even urged Fognini “to stop with negativity” at one point, something the Italian was unable to manage.
“It’s not extra pressure,” said Fognini.
“If somebody like (Federer and Nadal) and Bjorn (Borg, captain) close to me say something, I have to open my ear and just listen. I mean, it’s not happening like every week that I have this kind of possibility to try to understand people that they made — I mean, how you say, the legend of our sport.
We are very happy with 3-1, I tell you that – Roger Federer
“I’m lucky. I’m lucky to be here.”
Federer conceded that this attempt at courtside support had fallen short.
“Bad coaching,” said the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
“It’s that simple. Terrible coaching before, during, and after. Maybe we said the right things afterwards, you know, to cheer him up again. But everything that led to the performance didn’t work.
“No, I think Fabio struggled, you know, just to shake off the nerves. That was my opinion. He tried, we tried, and honestly Jack started to play very well.
“Got to give that to Jack in that second set. He was able to keep Fabio uncomfortable, and we tried to get Fabio comfortable. But Jack didn’t agree with our plan, so there you go.”
Dominic Thiem earlier had the honor of being the first Team Europe player to hit the court on the opening day of Laver Cup 2019. The Austrian, who claimed the first point after winning a dramatic match tiebreaker against Canadian Denis Shapovalov, came through a very emotional match and was amazed by the warm welcome Team Europe got from more than 17,000 spectators at Palexpo.
“The atmosphere and the emotions were outstanding. It was really unbelievable,” said Thiem.
“Honestly, I never heard something louder in my life than when Roger entered the court before the match. Was unbelievable. Then the atmosphere in the match was also great.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas managed to give Europe the lead as he claimed a second point after a battle against Taylor Fritz. It was a dream come true for the Greek star to win his first ever Laver Cup match in front of his role-model teammates.
“If you would tell me 20 years ago, actually 10 years ago, that I would be playing an event having Roger and Rafa and four more top-10 guys by my side, I wouldn’t believe you. That’s just magnificent,” said Tsitsipas.
Last but not least, Alexander Zverev and Federer thrilled the crowd as they claimed a convincing win over the Sock/Shapovalov pairing, giving Team Europe a 3-1 lead after day one.
“We are very happy with 3-1, I tell you that,” said Federer. “I’m not a negative or a pessimistic guy. I’m a super-positive guy. But I was looking at a 2-2 today before the day. Just the feelings I had.”
And a delighted Federer praised this first Laver Cup day in his home country.
“It’s intense,” he said. “Great looking stadium. Maximum wave. The noise at the player welcome, that loud, is very special for me and the team.”