Tsitsipas gives Team Europe a 2-0 lead
Stefanos Tsitsipas sat in the chair umpire’s seat during Thursday afternoon’s wildly popular Open Practice at Laver Cup London, holding a coveted view of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal exchanging strokes with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
On Friday, the Greek didn’t call the score but, he did call the shots in his opener at The O2.
Tsitsipas sizzled in downing Diego Schwartzman 6-2 6-1 in one hour, 16 minutes, improving to an unblemished 3-0 in Laver Cup singles.
The result also handed Team Europe a 2-0 advantage following the afternoon session on Day One.
We’re off to a good start,” Tsitsipas said. “We are doing really well in terms of understanding what our goals are this week. We have a strong lineup of players, many of them that qualify as legends of our sport.
Having never triumphed in Laver Cup in the four previous editions, Team World captain John McEnroe said motivation would not be an issue.
But just as in Casper Ruud’s 6-4 5-7 10-7 success over Jack Sock to start proceedings, Tsitsipas broke away early from Schwartzman and led 2-0.
Sock recovered to force a thrilling climax, yet Schwartzman found it increasingly difficult to combat his opponent’s all-court coverage.
Teammates Federer and Djokovic rose to their feet on the bench when Tsitsipas switched from offense to defense before ripping an inside-out forehand winner while leading 3-1.
The pair produced a topsy-turvy classic in Monte Carlo in April; however Friday’s duel resembled their ensuing clash in Cincinnati when Tsitsipas advanced in straight sets.
Schwartzman is among the top movers in the game and rallied to break for 1-0 in the second set, raising an arm in celebration. However, a wayward smash in the next game nullified the break.
Tsitsipas surged again, engineering an acrobatic backhand overhead smash at 4-1.
Schwartzman had lost his previous Laver Cup singles in two heart-breaking fashion, 11-9 Laver Breakers. Tsitsipas’ brilliance ensured Friday’s tussle was not as close.
The Laver Cup’s scoring format — one point for a win Friday, two on Saturday, and three on Sunday — ensures the series is still in the balance. At least one win in the night session would bolster Team World’s belief.