Team Europe’s triumph: ‘It’s something that’s gonna stay forever with me’
A master of legacy building, Bjorn Borg’s fourth successive Laver Cup triumph is a fresh notch in the Team Europe captain’s belt.
Nicknamed the Ice Man in his playing days for his poker face, the ever unflappable Swede would barely have battered an eye at the selection task ahead of him before heading to Boston without the might of any of the Big Three for the first time.
And nor should he have, given the glut of well-credentialed options at his disposal.
Four of the six who took the court at TD Garden were on debut, but all six were ranked in the top 10.
“For me personally as captain [this] is the most important week in the year for me. I think we all are very happy to defend our title. These are six guys who [are] the future of tennis,” Borg said.
“They play unbelievable tennis. Just to put together what we did as a team, it’s unbelievable.”
Russian Andrey Rublev was only the fourth-ranked man in blue but contributed a Laver Cup-leading six points, following his match-point saving heroics on Day 1 against Diego Schwartzman and clutch doubles triumphs alongside Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
“This year I had two really emotional moments. One was Olympic gold medal [in mixed doubles], and this week is the second,” Rublev said. “It’s something that’s gonna stay forever with me and be a special moment.
Of course on the tennis court was amazing atmosphere, amazing stadium with amazing crowd full of people, which all of us were missing a lot, especially after such a tough time. I can be only grateful to have a team like that to be part of this team.
In the absence of the elder statesmen in previous Team Europe successes, world No.4 Zverev was the only team member to have contested all four Laver Cups. As he did in Geneva when he clinched the deciding points against Milos Raonic, he again delivered the result, this time when sharing the court with Rublev.
The German, who claimed this year’s Olympic gold medal in singles, said he was already casting an eye forward to Laver Cup 2022 in London at the O2 Arena, the site of his 2018 ATP Finals breakthrough.
“We have the past three champions [in the ATP Finals] on this team in London, so I think Stef, Daniil [Medvedev], and myself, we are very much looking forward to playing in that stadium,” Zverev said. “We are very much looking forward to hopefully representing Europe again there.”
World No.3 Tsitsipas landed a career-first victory over Team World’s Nick Kyrgios and backed it up to add a doubles triumph with Rublev on Day 2. The Greek savored the atmosphere in a team environment in his second Laver Cup appearance.
“They have all been kind of my rivals, and it is nice to see that now we get to be part of one team and aim for the same goals and for the same things,” Tsitsipas said.
It has been more than a pleasure to be fighting for this trophy, and I think what is the most important and what stands out this week is the memories that we have built and formed together.
Debutants Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini each contributed singles victories on Day 1 and such was Team Europe’s dominance, the spearhead of the lineup – newest Grand Slam champion and world No.2 – Daniil Medvedev was only required to contest one active singles match, an emphatic victory over Denis Shapovalov on Day 2.
“We are still having a great time, probably going to have a great celebration tonight,” the US Open champion said. “From my side, really happy to bring two points to the team. We didn’t lose a singles match and won two doubles out of three.”
Team Europe completed their trophy run with three matches to spare but the result was about something greater than fostering a winning culture in team captain Borg’s eyes.
“They are going to play against each other for so many times [on tour], finals, matches, it’s going to hurt, they are going to have joy,” Borg said.
“But to put them together, I think in a way they get a better relationship with each other, they have fun, but still they are going to go back to tournaments. So for them, I think it’s a good thing.”