BOSTON – Hours after teammate and compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime suffered a heartbreaking defeat, Ontarian Denis Shapovalov joined forces with American John Isner to secure the team’s first world win, in the opening-day final of the Laver Tennis Cup, Friday at TD Garden in Boston.
After receiving the first set of the tandem set formed by Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev, Shapovalov and Isner won 17 of the last 20 points in the match and took a 4-6, 7-6 (2) (10-1) win.
Thus, at the end of Day One, Team Europe is 3-1 ahead with four more matches in the program on Saturday, three in singles and one in doubles.
Laver Cup: FAA leaning
While each win earns one point on Friday, wins on Saturday will save two points.
The tournament formula states that three points are awarded for each win on Sunday. To win, the team must collect 13 points.
Earlier in the day, Berrettini came from behind in the third set of the third set tiebreak to defeat Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (3), 7-5 (10-8).
Auger-Aliasime was 7-5 ahead on this super break when Berrettini collected three consecutive points to take the lead. Montrealer took advantage of a foul from his opponent to equalize, but an erratic forehand from Auger-Aliassime gave Brittney a match point.
The latter ended the duel after two hours and 52 minutes of play with a stunning backhand that Auger-Aliassime, who led the net, was unable to return despite diving to his left.
Auger-Aliassime took the lead in the standoff by winning the first set at 1min 21, although he had chances to win the opening round faster.
The author of a break to give himself a 4-2 priority, Auger-Aliassime came later to serve with a 5-3 lead. However, he failed to capitalize on two set points, and Berrettini returned the confrontation to an equal serve.
Auger-Aliassime was offered five extra points in the twelfth inning in serving his opponent. Here again, Berrettini has always known how to get chestnuts out of a fire.
Montrealer did not let himself be defeated, however, and did three small breaks to finally complete the first round.
Berrettini tied the match by scoring a serve break in the twelfth game of the second set, the only one in the group.
This was the fourth match between Auger-Alessem and Berrettini and the third in 2021. Berrettini leads with three wins and one setback, including his four-set quarter-final victory at Wimbledon Open last July.
About six weeks later, in Cincinnati, Auger-Aliassime got his revenge when he won 6-4, 6-3 in the round of 16 of the Masters 1000.
slow surface and balls
In the first match of the evening session, the Russian Andrei Rublev imitated Berrettini by returning from behind in the super tiebreak to defeat Argentine Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3 (11-9).
Rublev faced setbacks 2-6, 5-8 in the super break, but turned the tide to earn himself a match point, at his service, with a 9-8 score. A double fault, however, prolonged the duel.
Rublev took the win on his second match point, with a superb 24-stroke rally, which the Russian finished off with a shot that landed a few inches inside the finish line.
Earlier in the day, Norway’s Casper Ruud gave Europe a 1-0 lead with a 6-3 7-6 (4) win over American Riley Opelka.
Rudd, the world’s tenth racketeer, crushed his opponent in the third and ninth games to win the first set in 39 minutes.
In the tiebreak, Rudd managed to steal a point from Opelka to lead 2–1 and close the books on the second game point.
“These are the slowest conditions I’ve ever played in, given the combination of pitch and balls,” said Opelka, a player known for his strong serving.
This is the fourth performance of the tournament, which opened in 2017. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Europe lifted the trophy in the first three tournaments, but could not count on the contribution of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
The injured Federer and Nadal will not play in 2021.
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