In what initially seemed like a tight battle between the tennis superstars of Team Europe and Team World, has turned out to be quite an easy exhibition tournament for the Europeans. On Day 1, Europe gained control from the start, ending the day leading 3-1. The next day, both Alexander Zverev and Roger Federer continued the team’s momentum to extend the lead to 7-1.
This year’s Laver Cup started off with a dominant victory by Grigor Dimitrov against Frances Tiafoe. Dimitrov, who has had a disappointing year by his standards, found his rhythm very early on in the match and lead 5-1 in no time. He fired his fifth ace of the set to close it out in just 26 minutes. The key for the Bulgarian was his serving – he won 92% of points on his first serve. However, the American didn’t go down without a fight and, during set 2, put more pressure on his opponent’s serve by winning 38% more points on his second serve. It wasn’t to be for the youngster though, as the more experienced Dimitrov finally broke at 4-4 and served it out to win 6-1 6-4.
Then it was the turn of Edmund and Sock, who both were looking to put a recent run of poor form behind them. It was an extremely tight first set, with both men easing through their service games. In the tenth game, however, Edmund finally managed to break Sock’s serve to win the set 6-4. Things weren’t as easy for the Brit in set two, as Sock continued to raise his level and thrived with the support of his teammates. Jack Sock managed to edge Edmund, winning the second set 7-5 to force a ten point tiebreaker. Edmund made the best possible start and was soon leading 4-1 thanks to Sock’s errors and won the final set 10-6.
Goffin and Schwartzman also had a dramatic battle, with Team World looking to earn their first point. The Argentine was pushing his opponent side to side and quickly established a 4-2 lead in set one. Goffin reacted, raising his level to win four games in a row to subsequently win it 6-4. Schwartzman fought back and achieved a double break in the second set, but was pegged back once again. With the crowd on his side, the small man from Buenos Aires finally managed to win the set 6-4. In the tiebreak, the Belgian quickly earned a 7-2 lead by playing aggressive tennis, but Schwartzman upped the anti and won the next seven points to earn himself two match points. However, Goffin found an extra gear and won the next four points to win 6-4 4-6 11-9.
Despite being the dream team, Federer and Djokovic were unable to repeat the success of Team Europe. The legendary pairing lost to Sock and Anderson in a tight match (6-7 6-3 10-6), finally giving some hope to Team World.
With a 3-1 lead, Team Europe looked as if they were safely on their way to defending their title. With each victor being awarded two points on this day, Team World needed to make a good start and Isner appeared to do so. The big-serving American cruised in the first set against Alexander Zverev to win it 6-3. He looked on his way to tying proceedings at 3-3, but the German fought back and saved a match point to win the second set 8-6 in a tiebreaker. Zverev then won a very close ten-point tiebreaker 10-7 to extend the lead to 5-1 in the favour of Europe.
It was then the turn of the legend Roger Federer to start off his Laver Cup campaign against Kyrgios. Federer, who lead the rivalry 3-1, managed to win the first set 6-3. Kyrgios’ lack of patience showed, amounting in many errors and increasing frustration with the umpire. Federer managed to keep his calm during the controversy and quickly earned a double break. From then on, Federer cruised to win 6-3 6-2 against a very inconsistent opponent.
Team Europe’s class has been shown throughout the tournament, with all men being able to hold their nerves in the tightest of moments. They currently lead 7-1, with Djokovic vs Anderson and Dimitrov/Goffin vs Sock/Kyrgios still to be played on Day Two. However, if Goffin and Zverev hadn’t been able to save match points, it would currently be tied at 4-4. Europe need thirteen points to win the Cup and look increasingly likely to be the winners once again.