Sock and Auger-Aliassime ride the storm for Team World
Félix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock have thrown Team World a lifeline on the final day of the 2022 Laver Cup.
The Canadian-American scratch doubles pairing narrowed the overall score to 8-7 for Team Europe with a 2-6 6-3 10-8 victory – and in a way that gives Auger-Aliassime confidence going into the second match of the day, his singles against Novak Djokovic.
It was a disciplined fightback for the North Americans after they were outplayed in the first set. Auger-Aliassime in particular looked bereft of confidence at the net, as Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray broke Sock’s serve twice to take the set in just 29 minutes. The Canadian seemed reluctant to intercept and seldom put his volleys away, just blocking the Italian-British pair’s powerful groundstrokes.
But his fortunes turned in the second game of the second set. He scrambled for a handful of points, got a little lucky with some errors from the Europeans, and the visitors fashioned a break of serve. From there, not only did Auger-Aliassime grow in stature, but Sock’s level rose too. While their one-break lead continued to look fragile, it held for Team World to take the second set and force a “Laver breaker” 10-point match tiebreak.
Still the Europeans looked to have the better cards, but Team World hung in, and at 8-8 there were two dramatic and crucial points. Berrettini blasted a forehand that was going long, Sock shouted to Auger-Aliassime to leave it, but the Canadian took a high backhand volley. The red-clad bench held its breath, but Auger-Aliassime got enough contact on the ball to force an error out of Murray. On the next point, Auger-Aliassime hit a powerful serve down the T, and while Berrettini struck a fierce forehand return, Sock was in a perfect position to caress a backhand stop volley to seal victory.
“As Frances [Tiafoe] would say, there was a little cocoa butter on the final volley,” Sock told the crowd. He also said his three doubles this year were more challenging than in recent years because he’s had to adjust to three new pairings, but he has won two of the three, and has breathed new life into the Team World campaign.
“I think we all know the importance of that match to start the day,” Sock said.
Being behind 11-4 would have been, safe to say, a difficult battle to come back from.
“JMac was obviously staying positive the whole time on the bench. Felix and I were trying to pump each other up. They came out extremely hot. We just kind of had to ride the storm, obviously raise our level, and we were able to do that throughout the second and third.”
Team Europe can still retain the Laver Cup with two of the three final singles, but two of the three will also do for Team World. The doubles result means there’s still all to play for.