It was a tough day at the office for Team World, but a jubilant one for the defenders from Team Europe.
Zverev on Federer’s advice
A veteran of all four Team Europe Laver Cup campaigns, Germany’s Alexander Zverev dug deep to hold off Team World talisman, John Isner, and the American’s home crowd for a narrow 7-6(5), 6-7(6), 10-5 victory.
Zverev admitted the format of a match including the so called ‘Laver tiebreak’ suited such a big server as Isner. It was midway through the second set after he failed to capitalize on a handful of break points that he had to juggle conflicting advice.
“My entire team was telling me to step back on the returns, then Roger’s behind me telling me to step in on the returns and then I was confused,” Zverev said.
“In the end I didn’t know who to listen to. Either I listen to eight people on the bench or I listen to 20 Grand Slams over there … At the end of the day I won so that’s the most important.”
Medvedev talking about his wife’s love of the trophy
If anyone has earned the right to put their feet up after this month’s US Open it is the newest Grand Slam champion, Team Europe’s Daniil Medvedev.
The Russian admitted he did not pick up a racket for at least a week in the aftermath of his triumph over Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows earlier this month.
It was time for a whirlwind of media commitments, a mental reset and some quality time with his wife, Daria, whom he admitted he had not had a chance in New York to buy her a third anniversary gift.
A curious Jim Courier asked Medvedev whether the trophy or the $2.5 million prize check made up for it, to which the world No.2 was unequivocal.
“The trophy, it’s actually true,” he said. “I like the trophy, but the check is good also. My wife cares only about the trophy. She thinks about how you put it in the house, where it’s going to be the best place, that’s for her to do. I’m just happy I won it.”
There could be more silverware to decorate the house on Sunday should Team Europe complete a fourth straight Laver Cup triumph.
Rivals reunite as Roddick drops by
It is an on-court rivalry that spanned more than a decade and on Saturday, Grand Slam champions and former No.1s Andy Roddick and Roger Federer reunited at TD Garden for the American’s first trip to a Laver Cup.
The pair’s on-court rivalry was best remembered for their storied Wimbledon showdowns – the most famous of which came in their third final that Federer claimed 16-14 in the deciding set in 2009.
“It took me long enough but here in Boston at TD Garden, couldn’t be more excited,” Roddick said. “I got a tour a little earlier from none other than the man himself, Roger Federer. It’s always good catching up with him.”
Roddick and Federer were not the only former on-court rivals who caught up courtside on Saturday as nine-time major champion Monica Seles took in the action with Mary Joe Fernandez.
Seles was on hand to conduct the coin toss for the first match of the day between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios.
McEnroe on US men’s tennis
With the last American men’s Grand Slam singles champion, Roddick, watching on from the stands, Team World captain John McEnroe was pressed on what needed to be done to cultivate and nurture the next major champion from the United States.
“Rod Laver was my idol, so I would never not put him in the top of the list, but those other three guys, Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal], Novak [Djokovic], I mean, they have been unbelievable and inspired a bunch of people, whether it’s in their own countries or close by,” McEnroe said.
“There is a tradition in tennis that I think we perhaps in America took for granted here when we had the success we had way back when.
“The other part of it, I believe, is trying to bring the game more accessible to more people and get it in schools more, I believe. So a lot of the people, young kids growing up or families that couldn’t afford to play, have an opportunity… The good news is that it does seem like we are heading in the right direction. Hopefully some big things to come the next five years.”
Kyrgios on Laver Cup
Alongside John Isner, Aussie showman Nick Kyrgios was the only other player who had represented Team World at every Laver Cup.
While unable to repeat his team heroics when he upstaged Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in an ATP Cup showdown in Brisbane last year, the 26-year-old put into perspective how much it meant to represent more than the individual on the world stage.
“Laver Cup, I have had some of my most memorable moments on a tennis court here. This event… made me more hungry. I think to the back end of the last couple of years when I was on the team, it made me… push a little bit harder.
“This is a great way to give other players some attention. You know, you look at when Felix [Auger-Aliassime] gets announced into Boston, he’s incredibly loved. I think it gives fans who don’t usually see tennis to start loving other players. I think from the entertainment standpoint, it’s amazing.”