Team spirit key as Europe lifts Laver Cup again
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal led the way as camaraderie helped Team Europe to a third Laver Cup success.
It took a tiebreaker in the final match for Europe to lift the trophy for the third consecutive year in Geneva.
Boosted by the support of his teammates and a raucous atmosphere in the Palexpo arena, Alexander Zverev managed to cope with the pressure and secure the decisive point for Team Europe.
Zverev’s victory over Milos Raonic secured a 13-11 victory for Europe, its third in succession following Prague and Chicago.
“Everybody helped me, the crowd especially. I don’t think I have ever played in an atmosphere like that before. It’s been absolutely amazing,” said Zverev.
“Actually, Rafa and Roger helped me a lot before the tiebreak and going into our locker room where we had a little bit of a break, and they gave me a lot of nice words, a lot of positivity.
“And how they were on the bench, and how everybody was on the bench – it was an unbelievable feeling for me to win in the end.”
Europe Captain Bjorn Borg admitted to having been “very nervous” – something Roger Federer could hardly believe.
We are going to have a dinner, and for those who have even more stamina left, it’s going to be a last-man-standing competition tonight – Roger Federer
“You have ice in your veins Bjorn, you don’t get nervous,” said the Swiss.
On Sunday morning, things had not looked so good for Team Europe and there was huge disappointment when Borg announced that Rafael Nadal had to withdraw due to a hand inflammation.
It was Laver Cup rookie Stefanos Tsitsipas who had the difficult task of replacing the Spaniard alongside Federer in the doubles against John Isner and Jack Sock, and although the young Greek endured a tough loss he acknowledged the benefit of such an experience.
“I got to play with both Rafa and Roger in less than 16 hours, which is unbelievable,” said Tsitsipas.
“It gave me the opportunity to see from their perspective when they’re on the court how they see everything, and it’s quite interesting, very unique, and that’s what makes them the greatest ever.
“Their determination, their concentration, their skill – they are 100% in charge.”
The input of Federer and Nadal was plain to see as the two all-time greats led the team talks and tactical discussions at every changeover, and it helped foster a team spirit to rival that of Team World.
“Winning (as) teams is just amazing, because you celebrate together. It’s a very special thing,” said Nadal.
“Honestly, I really hope that this new and young generation keeps supporting this event, because this event is special.
“We need to make this event stronger and stronger, because the atmosphere that we leave here is difficult to find in other places.”
The last word fell to Federer, the 20-time Grand Slam champion who helped bring the Laver Cup back to his home country – and whose local knowledge might have proved useful for the victory celebrations.
“We are going to have a dinner, and for those who have even more stamina left, it’s going to be a last-man-standing competition tonight,” he said.
“I don’t think that I’m going to be the winner of that competition, but I’ll give it a go.”
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