Nobody was sure what to expect when the Laver Cup got underway Friday in Prague, but the event got off to a great start and seems to have the attention of tennis fans across the world. The interest level was always going to be high with the amount of talented players participating, but a big question was just how serious these matches were going to be. Leading up to the event, players were stressing the fact that this wasn’t going to be your typical exhibition and they’ve lived up to that so far after day one.
Team Europe dominate Laver Cup afternoon session
The theme of the three singles matches was Team World keeping every match close but just not being able to come through in the end. Team Europe has the better team on paper, and that showed throughout the day. Frances Tiafoe and Marin Cilic were first on court on Friday. Tiafoe was a late call up to the event after Juan Martin Del Potro withdrew to have additional time to prepare for the rest of his 2017 season. 72nd ranked Tiafoe was an overwhelming underdog against the number five player in the world, but held his own. Cilic won the first set 7-6(3) before falling behind 4-1 in the second set. He was able to break back and even the set at 4-4 before taking the set in a tiebreaker 7-6(0) to give Team Europe an early lead.
Pressure was on John Isner to even the Laver Cup up against Dominic Thiem. The big serving American played well from the start, which was a good sign since the last time he played he was blown off the court at the US Open by Mischa Zverev. The first set went in to a marathon first set tiebreaker in which Isner won 7-6(15) and lasted over 20 minutes. The two stayed on serve throughout the second set, and eventually headed in to another tiebreaker yet again. Thiem was able to stay in the match to force a third set super tiebreaker. After Isner got off to a quick 3-0 lead, Thiem showed why he’s #7 in the world winning 10-7 giving Team Europe a 2-0 lead.
Even evening for Team World and Team Europe
The first match of the night session saw Next Gen stars Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov facing off. It was a rematch of the semifinals in Montreal where Shapovalov broke out before falling to Zverev. Much like the other two singles matches this was close as well. Zverev won the first set 7-6(3). It looked like we might’ve had a singles match that didn’t end in a tiebreaker when Zverev was up 5-4 in the 2nd and had 0-40 on Shapovalov’s serve. Shapovalov then saved four match points to eventually get to the tiebreaker where Zverev won 7-6(5) giving Team Europe a 3-0 lead after the final singles match of day one.
For the first time on day one, Team World went in to a match where you thought they had a good chance of winning. Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock faced off against Tomas Berdych and Rafael Nadal. Kyrgios/Sock had the upper hand as they’ve played some doubles together on tour, while it was the first time together for Berdych/Nadal. Kyrgios/Sock got off to a good start breaking early in the first set before taking it 6-3. Berdych/Nadal looked more comfortable together as the match went on and won the second set 7-6(7) to take the final match of the day in to a 3rd set match tiebreak. Team World won the crucial third set to take the final match of the day avoiding the day one sweep.
Even though Team Europe is leading 3-1 after the first day, the Laver Cup is far from over. Tomorrow’s matches will each be worth two points so Team World can tie it up simply by taking the first match on day two tomorrow.
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