Federer and Zverev put Europe 3-1 ahead in Laver Cup

By Sports Desk September 20, 2019

Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev put Team Europe into a 3-1 lead against Team World in the Laver Cup after claiming victory in the doubles.

Heading into the first doubles match of the tournament leading 2-1, Europe extended their advantage as two of their heavyweights held off a fight back from Jack Sock and Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

A break of serve in the fourth game handed Federer and Zverev a chance they did not need a second invitation to grasp, going on to win the first set 6-3, wrapping it up in 37 minutes.

Set two looked to be heading Europe's way in similarly simple fashion when the North American duo lost their serve in game one before passing up six break points. However, they finally fought back to draw level at 4-4.

But with Federer and Zverev hanging on by their fingertips, Sock and his partner squandered six set points, with Shapovalov then double-faulting to hand a break to the men in blue.

Europe took full advantage, Federer – playing in front of a buoyant home crowd in Geneva – serving out the match.

Stefanos Tsitsipas' hard-fought victory had nosed Europe ahead in the final singles match of the opening day of the showpiece team event.

The Greek triumphed 6-2 1-6 10-7 over Taylor Fritz in a thrilling contest, after Sock's win against world number 11 Fabio Fognini had cancelled out Dominic Thiem's earlier victory.

Tsitsipas was rallied on by the rest of Europe's players, including Rafael Nadal, who had strapping on his left hand – the Spaniard having honoured his commitment to play in the tournament despite his exertions in the US Open.

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    Thiem beat Nadal for the first time in six attempts at a grand slam with a tense 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (8-6) win in four hours and 10 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

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    "He's playing great," the 33-year-old said of Thiem. "He's playing with a lot of energy, aggression, determination. So just well done to him.

    "I honestly didn't play a bad match, no, no. My attitude was great during the whole match. 

    "Of course, I am sad. I lost an opportunity to be in the semi-finals of another grand slam. But I lost against a great opponent and he deserved it too.

    "[I was] good, positive, fighting spirit all the time, giving myself more chances. That's what I tried. I did not give up in one moment during the whole match and gave myself an opportunity until the last point.

    "Happy for that because my level of concentration and tennis was better. I think the concentration was even better than the tennis, but the tennis was not bad at all."

    Nadal, who had 49 winners to 33 unforced errors and converted four of his nine break points, found the conditions difficult at times.

    The Spaniard added: "It was difficult to play against him. [I'm] happy, but I need a little bit more determination in some moments - it's true that in some moments conditions have been a little bit heavy.

    "Honestly, when the ball was new for me, I was better. I had two breaks and I felt more comfortable with the new balls.

    "Then the ball became so heavy. He's younger, he's very quick. With these heavy balls, it's difficult to produce winners sometimes. He has a lot of power, so he's able to produce these amazing shots from a very difficult position."

    Nadal, who only lost five fewer points than Thiem across the match, was asked if he felt there was any more he could have done to find a way to win.

    "Yes - win any tie-break!" he said. "But that's how it works. Sometimes things are not going the way that you would like. It has been a very good match with a good level of tennis.

    "I had a big chance with 5-3 in the first. I had set point serving. That was a very important moment of the match, for sure. Then I didn't play a good tie-break. I was back in the second set, but he played with the right determination.

    "He played great matches against me in the past too, great quality tennis. We like each other in terms of character - I like his attitude and probably he likes mine too! 

    "We have things that we can compare with each other in some ways and I wish him all the very best for the rest of the tournament."

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    2010 US Open semi-final: Djokovic [3] bt Federer [2] 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5

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    2011 French Open semi-final: Federer [3] bt Djokovic [2] 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5)

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    2014 Wimbledon final: Djokovic [1] bt Federer [4] 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-4

    Djokovic. Federer. All England Club. Wimbledon final. They are words sports fans dream of. Federer was in his first major decider since 2012, while Djokovic had lost his previous three grand slam finals – one to Andy Murray and two to Rafael Nadal. Federer would produce the comeback this time, coming from 5-2 down and saving a match point in the fourth to force a decider. But just as Federer looked the more likely winner, Djokovic stepped up to win a seventh major crown. The pair combined for 143 winners and just 56 unforced errors in a match Djokovic labelled the "best quality grand slam final" he had played in.

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    Fast forward five years and they met again, and they delivered once more on the biggest stage. Federer would be left to rue missed chances after a battle lasting four hours, 57 minutes – the longest singles final in Wimbledon history. Djokovic saved two match points at 8-7 in the fifth set before a match tie-break followed, the first in singles in the tournament's history. Djokovic would go on to win a 16th grand slam title, moving a little closer to Federer's all-time men's record total of 20.

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