Fritz levels for Team World 4-4
America’s top-ranked player Taylor Fritz kept Team World’s Laver Cup hopes alive at The O2 on Saturday, fighting off British No.1 Cameron Norrie 6-1 4-6 10-8.
It was another impressive performance from Fritz, who also excelled at Laver Cup Geneva 2019 when he upset Top 10-ranked Dominic Thiem on the third day.
Since then, Fritz and Norrie’s rivalry has intensified with 10 matches played on the ATP Tour and their head-to-head split 5:5. Fritz moved one better at The O2, claiming a much-needed match that leveled the overall Laver Cup leaderboard 4-4.
Earlier on Saturday, Matteo Berrettini repeated his Laver Cup winning ways over Team World’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, out-shooting the Canadian 7-6(11) 4-6 10-7.
Laver Breakers have indeed been the norm at The O2 Arena, with five of six matches so far decided in the third set.
Two more points are on offer in each of Saturday night’s contests and Fritz is confident his good friend Frances Tiafoe can put Team World ahead despite facing 21-time Grand Slam singles champion Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic contests his first match since winning Wimbledon in July.
“I think it’s big we’re going in 4-4,” said Fritz. “I think that’s going to apply more pressure on them, more pressure on Novak to perform and play a good match.
“Everyone’s looking at him to lock in a win and be the guy that takes care of business, gets his wins. Obviously not a lot of people usually beat Novak but Frances is playing great.”
Fritz and Norrie hardly needed to scout their opponents given their Davis Cup meeting last week in Glasgow, where Norrie had rallied from a set down to win in three.
A sense of deja vu permeated Saturday when Norrie — after conceding the opener in 23 minutes — withstood pressure in the second set to make it a more balanced affair.
Fritz grabbed an 8-4 advantage in the decider, however Norrie suddenly won four points in a row to draw level, one rally lasting 25 shots.
At 8-8, the left-handed Norrie hit two consecutive unforced errors and a pumped Fritz roared to his team.
Norrie entered Team Europe’s bench after Rafael Nadal withdrew due to personal reasons. Despite the loss, Norrie could hold his head high in his Laver Cup debut.
“I was just honored to be part of this team and I felt like I really deserved to be part of this team, from what I’ve done the last two years.
“I knew there was a good chance for me to play so I was all in and was going to be practicing in London anyway, so it was perfect timing. It was great to get that call and make my debut and fight for Team Europe. It’s one of the coolest events I’ve ever been a part of.”