Day 3 Preview: Can Team Europe stop the red engine?
Team World will carry a lopsided 10-2 advantage into Day 3 action at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, now just three points away from a successful Laver Cup title defense. But as Vice-Captain Patrick McEnroe will tell you, given the setup, no one is getting ahead of themselves: There’s still work to be done.
“You have to get to the end, because the beauty of this format, as we have seen in other years when we were quite behind, is you always have a chance going into the final day,” he said.
“I think the most important thing is for each guy to play their match and focus on what they need to do. While we do have a lead, the beauty of the format is that you can come back later in the event, which we have done a few times. It’s really all about just getting to that final match. We’ve still got a long way to go.”
“We have a difficult task for tomorrow,” said Team Europe Captain Bjorn Borg. “We have to win all four matches, basically. We have to do that. The team is ready to play. We’re just going to go out and they’re going to try to do their best to win the matches. We still have a chance. It’s not impossible. It looks very difficult, but it’s not impossible.”
Match 1: Hubert Hurkacz/Andrey Rublev (Team Europe) vs. Ben Shelton/Frances Tiafoe (Team World)
The lineup shifts on Day 3, with doubles first up on the schedule, meaning the energetic duo of Shelton and Tiafoe will have an opportunity to clinch the Laver Cup for defending champion Team World. It’s a tough ask for Hurkacz, who, after pulling double duty on Day 2, will jump right back into the fray on Sunday morning when he pairs up with Rublev. They are potentially Borg’s last line of defense.
Match 2: Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World)
Should Shelton/Tiafoe fail to secure Team World’s title defense in doubles, things will get very interesting. As Borg pointed out, the blue jackets will need to pull off a Day 3 sweep to take back the Cup. Ruud, who has accounted for Team Europe’s lone points (def. Tommy Paul, 7-6(6) 6-2) would then go up against the American Fritz. They have met just once before, last year in round-robin play at the Nitto ATP Finals, with Ruud claiming a tight 6-3 4-6 7-6(6) triumph. “Even if we are coming from behind tomorrow, we can think about what they did last year and it won’t be over until it’s over on Sunday,” said Ruud.
Match 3: Andrey Rublev (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World)
Two of their three encounters have come in Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, with Tiafoe having taken both — in the third round in 2021, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-1, and the quarterfinals in 2022, 7-6(3) 7-6(0) 6-4. The American loves the big-stage moments. He closed out Team World’s maiden Laver Cup title last year via a 1-6 7-6(11) [10-8] upset of Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in London.
Match 4: Hubert Hurkacz (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)
If the 6-foot-5 Pole Hurkacz is still standing for a fourth match in two days, he’ll be tasked with taking down home favorite Auger-Aliassime. The Canadian owns a slight 2-1 edge in career head-to-heads, though Hurkacz took their most recent encounter last year in the Halle quarterfinals, 7-6(2) 7-6(4).