Top 5 Moments: Day One
Team Europe heads into Day 2 of Laver Cup 2021 with a 3-1 lead, as Team World ends Day 1 on a high.
Shapo to fight fire with fire
Denis Shapovalov and John Isner injected a welcome dose of hope back into the Team World camp with their stirring match tiebreak triumph over Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev in the final match on Friday night.
While vice-captain Patrick McEnroe remained optimistic the momentum had swung some way back towards his team, Shapovalov revealed there was added incentive on Day 2 to conjure the comeback.
“Yeah, definitely super positive. As well I want to say 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,” Shapovalov said. “We’re going to fight for every single point tomorrow.”
Never count out Rublev on the run
When two men as light on their feet as Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman square off for Laver Cup spoils, winners don’t come easy.
The only previous time the pair had crossed paths came in the opening round at Roland Garros in 2017, when the Argentine prevailed 9-7 in the fifth set.
“Do not underestimate the power of a crowd,” commentator Sam Smith said after Schwartzman ended a searching rally to close in on a one-set lead, which left Jack Sock pulling his best flossing dance moves courtside.
On Friday, it was the Russian’s turn to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat as he saved a match point to hand Team Europe a 3-0 advantage.
The two saved their best for last when Rublev – not the most comfortable customer at net – closed out their finest exchange with a backhand volley winner.
Auger-Aliassime rues shoe blowout
In the longest match in four editions of the Laver Cup, Matteo Berrettini edged his way past good friend Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(3), 5-7, [10-8] to hand Team Europe a 2-0 advantage heading into the first match of the night session.
The pair toiled for an hour and 27 minutes in the first set alone before Auger-Aliassime secured it on his seventh set point. After the second set slipped through his grasp, the Canadian appeared to have steadied the ship to take control of the match tiebreak only to be caught out dragging his feet.
Sliding into a forehand to salvage the point before he inched ahead 7-5, Auger-Aliassime busted his left, pink Adidas shoe. It required a quick footwear switch at the change of ends but it proved an unlucky omen as he proceeded to lose five of the next six points to end the match.
Federer works the crowd
No sooner had Casper Ruud consolidated a break in the opening match of Laver Cup 2021 against Reilly Opelka than the crowd erupted at the sight of a familiar face on the big screens high above the court at TD Garden.
Despite only having undergone a third knee surgery last month, Swiss legend Roger Federer flew in to support his Team Europe teammates in Boston and gave a wave when his masked face was beamed to all in the packed arena.
“Everyone went nuts, like he deserves. The crowd was going crazy and it gave me chills,” Ruud said. “You know, my hairs were raising on my arms.
“I was in the match mode, but still, it’s something you can’t block out from your feelings… Even though he’s not playing, he’s always a big part of the tennis world.”
Ruud reveals his true allegiances
Norway’s Casper Ruud knew his bombshell NHL announcement would not go down too well with a Boston crowd so when he revealed in his on-court interview he was an avowed Tampa Bay Lightning fan he had to move quickly to extinguish the fire. The Lightning knocked out the Bruins in the 2020 playoffs.
“I probably shouldn’t say this too loud but I’m a Tampa Bay Lightning fan so … I know, I know, wait,” Ruud said. “So I had a lot of tough nights watching the Bruins and also the Celtics.
“It’s a great sport city, and the Red Sox, it’s a great tradition. Bruins have given me a hard time, my heart bumping at quite high rates, but it’s great. It’s the first time for me playing in an arena like this. I hope I can come back and watch Bruins or a Celtics game once.”