Laver Cup: Team Europe in control with early lead against Team World

By Sports Desk September 25, 2021

Team Europe are on track for their fourth consecutive Laver Cup triumph after earning an early 3-1 lead against Team World.

Opening-day honours went to Bjorn Borg's Team Europe at TD Garden in Boston, where the defending champions moved into the box seat thanks to wins for Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini and Casper Ruud in the singles on Friday.

John Isner and Denis Shapovalov managed to get Team World on the board in the evening's final doubles match against Alexander Zverev and Berrettini 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 10-1.

Roger Federer and Rod Laver were in the crowd as Team Europe – headlined by newly crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and consisting of six of the world's top 10 – made a strong start courtesy of Norwegian Ruud, who overcame Reilly Opelka 6-3 7-6 (7-4), improving his career record to 3-0 against the towering American, and beating him in straight sets for the first time.

Italian star Berrettini then overcame Team World's Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 10-8 in the competition's longest match at two hours, 52 minutes.

Berrettini escaped with the second set after facing two break points in the penultimate game before prevailing against the Canadian in a thrilling match tie-break.

"One of the best matches bar none that I've ever seen played, absolutely just enthralling," said captain John McEnroe, whose Team World are eyeing their first Laver Cup trophy.

Rublev rallied past Argentina's Diego Schwartzman, who won the opening set and led 6-2 and 8-5 in the match tie-break before losing 4-6 6-3 11-9.

"Today we are a bit more lucky; Matteo won a tough match against Felix in a super tiebreak, now you saw my match," said Russian star Rublev.

"It was so close; Diego was leading all the super tiebreak, but in the end I find a way to win.

"This happens. This is tennis, this is sport. It’s emotions. Someone has to win, someone has to lose."

On day two, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Zverev headline the day session against Team World's Nick Kyrgios and Isner.

In the evening, Medvedev will meet Shapovalov before Rublev and Tsitsipas team up for a doubles battle with Kyrgios and Isner.

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    Rafael Nadal reflected on being "a little bit lucky" to win a crucial first-set tie-break after he progressed to the Australian Open quarter-finals.

    Nadal saw off Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (16-14) 6-2 6-2 on Sunday to seal his place in the last eight of the season's first grand slam for the 14th time.

    The 20-time major winner, however, needed to overcome a stern challenge in the first set, winning a 30-minute tie-break.

    Indeed, Nadal had to claw back four set points in the tie-break, before an early break in the second paved the way for a much simpler time from then on in against an opponent who had played late into the night in the previous round.

    "The first set had been very, very emotional," Nadal said. "Anything could happen there. I was a little bit lucky at the end.

    "Everybody knows how mentally [tough] this game is.

    "It was a tough one and after that crazy first set, I think it was so important the break at the beginning of the second set.

    "His ball was very difficult to control, very flat, very fast. I'm very happy that I survived that first set, without a doubt."

    Nadal has only won the Australian Open once before, back in 2009, but his quest to land a record 21st grand slam title is going well so far.

    "In this tournament I think I have been in a very good position to fight for it a lot of times in my career," Nadal added.

    "I've always enjoyed playing in it a lot of times in my career. It's true that I was a little bit unlucky with injuries here, and sometimes I was unlucky because my opponents were a little bit better than me!

    "But I've always enjoyed it and I'm very happy to be back in a quarter-final, it means a lot to me."

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    It will mark the fifth contest between 22-year-old Shapovalov and Nadal, with the latter having won three of their previous encounters.

    "Shapovalov is a player with amazing potential," Nadal said.

    "Everybody knows that when he's playing well, it's very difficult to stop him with [his] big serve, amazing forehand, and he's very quick."

  • Australian Open: Nadal overcomes marathon first set to beat Mannarino for quarter-final spot Australian Open: Nadal overcomes marathon first set to beat Mannarino for quarter-final spot

    Rafael Nadal overcame a marathon first-set tiebreaker to move into the Australian Open quarter-finals with a straight-sets win over French veteran Adrian Mannarino on Sunday.

    Nadal continued on his search for a record-breaking 21st grand slam title with the 7-6 (16-14) 6-2 6-2 victory at Rod Laver Arena.

    The Spaniard will take on either third seed Alexander Zverev or Canadian 14th seed Denis Shapovalov in the last eight on Tuesday. The win marks Nadal's 14th appearance in the Australian Open quarters.

    Nadal has only dropped one set in his first four matches at the Australian Open but the opening set against Mannarino was epic, with the sixth seed edging his opponent after 80 minutes.

    The 2009 Australian Open winner trailed 3-0 in the tie-break but fought back to level it up, eventually taking the set 16-14 with his seventh set point.

    Nadal assumed complete control from that set on, dominating the second and third to win in two hours and 40 minutes.

    The 35-year-old was powerful, sending down 16-7 aces, while he won 88 percent on his first serve across the match. Nadal only offered up two break points for the match.

    DATA SLAM: Nadal on the right track

    Nadal has dropped 38 games across his four matches at the Australian Open, making light work of Mannarino in the latter two sets which collectively took as long as the first.

    The Spaniard won in Melbourne in 2009 but lost finals in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019, yet without Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at this year's event it looms as his best chance for years to lift the title and he seems in good health and form. 

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Nadal – 42/22

    Mannarino – 37/34

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Nadal – 16/6

    Mannarino 7/4

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Nadal – 5/17

    Mannarino – 1/2

  • Australian Open: Nadal overcomes marathon first set to seal quarter-final spot over Mannarino Australian Open: Nadal overcomes marathon first set to seal quarter-final spot over Mannarino

    Rafael Nadal overcame a marathon first-set tiebreaker to move into the Australian Open quarter-finals with a straight-sets win over French veteran Adrian Mannarino on Sunday.

    Nadal continued on his search for a record-breaking 21st grand slam title with the 7-6 (16-14) 6-2 6-2 victory at Rod Laver Arena.

    The Spaniard will take on either third seed Alexander Zverev or Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the last eight on Tuesday.

    Nadal has only dropped one set in his first four matches at the Australian Open but the opening set against Mannarino was epic, with the sixth seed edging his opponent after 80 minutes.

    The 2009 Australian Open winner trailed 3-0 in the tie-break but fought back to level it up, eventually taking the set 16-14 with his seventh set point.

    Nadal assumed complete control from that set on, dominating the second and third to win in two hours and 40 minutes.

    The 35-year-old was powerful, sending down 16-7 aces, while he won 88 percent on his first serve across the match. Nadal only offered up two break points for the match.

    DATA SLAM: Nadal on the right track

    Nadal has dropped 38 games across his four matches at the Australian Open, making light work of Mannarino in the latter two sets which collectively took as long as the first.

    The Spaniard won in Melbourne in 2009 but lost finals in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019, yet without Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at this year's event it looms as his best chance for years to lift the title and he seems in good health and form.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Nadal – 42/22

    Mannarino – 37/34

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Nadal – 16/6

    Mannarino 7/4

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Nadal – 5/17

    Mannarino – 1/2

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