Fortune favors Team World in Friday night doubles
John Isner and Denis Shapovalov are the Day 1 saviors for Team World, following a resounding comeback to deny Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev in their maiden partnership at Laver Cup 2021.
The US-Canadian partnership salvaged a point from a set down 4-6 7-6(2) 10-1 to avoid a third straight match tiebreak defeat for John McEnroe’s side in Boston.
“Honestly I think the credits go big time to John. The guy played incredibly today,” Shapovalov said. “He carried me after a couple of those misses and he really helped lift my game up as well.
This guy talks about being a serve bot, but today I think he was more of a return bot as well.
The pressure was squarely on the men in red when the elder statesman of the team, Isner, was broken to love in the opening game.
While the duo was slower to find its range, a brilliant clutch volley from the American on Berrettini’s serve four games later grabbed the break back, but the reprieve was all too brief.
It would take an inspired effort from the Team World duo to prevent the clean sweep on Friday from a set down and the breakthrough looked to have come when they surged ahead 3-1 in the second.
Shapovalov again surrendered serve when the break was in hand but a heaving TD Garden crowd lifted as Isner sent the clash into a match tiebreak on an ace down the T.
The tide had shifted firmly in the North Americans’ favor and Isner ensured this one would not fall the way of the previous two on Friday as he took control in the match tie-break.
In atmosphere like this it’s easy to get pumped up. We’re down 3-0 and, you know, it’s midnight exactly and I kept telling Denis and Denis kept telling me we had to out-energy these guys,” Isner said.
An ace brought up eight match points and only one was needed as a huge unreturnable serve completed the result after an hour and 40 minutes.
“We didn’t want to go down 4-0… We have a real shot at this tomorrow,” Isner said. “We’ve been in this situation before.
“All these guys on Europe, they’re top 10 for a reason. They play the big points very well. We were just a little unlucky in singles, I think a lot of us know that.
“Denis and I had to bring the energy, had to try to get this score a little bit closer and we’ll take our cuts tomorrow.”