Day two preview: the stakes are raised
LaverCup.com assesses the field across four matches on Day 2 of the competition.
No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas | Team Europe vs. No. 95 Nick Kyrgios | Team World
The points are doubled up on Day 2 at the 2021 Laver Cup, putting Aussie Nick Kyrgios in a position to level the proceedings with a win over Greek superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas. Having fallen to No. 95 in the ATP rankings, Kyrgios will come in as the underdog against Tsitsipas, who earlier this year reached his first major final at Roland Garros (l. to Novak Djokovic, 6-7(6) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4). But the 26-year-old will carry some confidence into the match having defeated Tsitsipas in their two previous encounters, including a tight 7-6(7) 6-7(3) 7-6(5) decision in January at the ATP Cup in Melbourne. Plus, the longtime Boston Celtics devotee will be all but playing on home turf at TD Garden. “I think everyone knows how special it is to be in such a great arena with so much history and so much sporting greatness to come out of this building, to be a part of it,” said Kyrgios.
No. 4 Alexander Zverev | Team Europe vs. No. 22 John Isner | Team World
Less than 24 hours after facing off on the doubles court, Olympic gold medalist Sascha Zverev of Germany and 6-foot-10 American John Isner will go head-to-head in singles. Zverev has come into his own in 2021. In addition to his Tokyo exploits, the 24-year-old has won titles in Acapulco, Madrid and Cincinnati, while notching Top-5 wins over the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Laver Cup teammate Stefanos Tsitsipas. He owns a lopsided 6-2 career edge against Isner, though they have split their two previous Laver Cup meetings in Chicago and Geneva. Both players can neutralize their opponents from the service stripe, but it’s the slow-playing TD Garden court that might play the biggest role in the Day 2 blockbuster. It will likely come down to who can stand tallest in extended baseline exchanges
No. 2 Daniil Medvedev | Team Europe vs. No. 12 Denis Shapovalov | Team World
Bostonians will get their first glimpse of newly-minted US Open champion Daniil Medvedev when he takes the TD Garden court against Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The Russian, who earlier this year became the first World No. 2 not named Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray in more than a decade-and-a-half, comes into Saturday’s matchup 1-2 against Shapovalov, though they haven’t faced each other since 2018. But Medvedev is a whole different player now, having since reached three major finals and finally breaking through in Flushing Meadows. Shapovalov, 22, joined John Isner on Friday night in doubles to provide Team World with its first point (def. Alexander Zverev/Matteo Berrettini 4-6 7-6(2) 10-1), and is more than inspired to earn another against Medvedev. “If we weren’t motivated before, apparently Sascha Zverev was saying that’s the last point we’re going to get, so we’re definitely super hungry to come back and try to win every single match,” he said. “We’re going to fight for every single point tomorrow.”
Andrey Rublev/Stefanos Tsitsipas | Team Europe vs. John Isner/Nick Kyrgios | Team World
For the second night in a row, the versatile John Isner, 36, will represent Team World in doubles, this time with Nick Kyrgios of Australia. The duo will take on a potent pairing in Team Europe’s Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. There’ll be plenty on the line in this intriguing nightcap. “With how this format is, with everything worth two points tomorrow, it’s game on,” said the former Georgia Bulldog Isner, who has now accounted for 15 points in four years of Laver Cup play, including appearances in Prague, Chicago and Geneva. Added Kyrgios, “I think this is our time. With the Big Three from Europe sitting out with injury, all that, this is our best shot. I think the crowd will be right behind us, and from the get-go the energy will be right there.”