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Team World Extend Lead to 10-2 With Night Session Sweep


Doubles pairing Ben Shelton and Felix Auger-Aliassime and Frances Tiafoe each added two points to Team World’s Laver Cup Vancouver 2023 tally, extending their lead to 10-2 at the end of Day 2.

Tiafoe stormed past Hubert Hurkacz 7-5 6-3 during Saturday night’s first match, prompting an emphatic celebration from his teammates in red.

“I played really well tonight,” grinned 25-year-old Tiafoe. “Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”

The affable American, who evened his head-to-head record against Hurkacz at three wins apiece, acknowledged that playing for more than just himself fueled his sense of purpose.

“I want to compete for the guys, I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe.

Frances Tiafoe serves during his match against Hubert Hurkacz.

In his first Laver Cup match, the Polish world No. 16 started strong. Hurkacz held set point at 5-4 on Tiafoe’s serve, only for his rival to serve his way out of trouble. The first break of the match went Tiafoe’s way in the very next game, as Hurkacz, 26, sailed a forehand wide.

Brimming with confidence once he had the upper hand, Tiafoe closed out the opening set and then perfectly executed a backhand lob to break Hurkacz in the opening game of the second set.

Tiafoe’s skills at the net were tested, but the world No. 11 rose to the occasion, combining a behind-the-back forehand with a backhand volley winner that brought the Rogers Arena crowd to its feet. The right-hander maintained his composure to seal victory, which came courtesy of his Polish foe’s sole double fault.

Auger-Aliassime and Shelton thrilled the home crowd with an electric 7-5 6-4 win over Gael Monfils and Hurkacz.

“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him Laver Cup Felix because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”

“The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for teammates,” said Auger-Aliassime. “Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done,” added the Canadian, who squandered four match points at 5-3.

Ever the consummate professional, the 23-year-old toned down his optimism. “It’s not over yet, we get to go again tomorrow,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Team World Captain John McEnroe echoed the sentiment albeit with a wide smile. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”

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