The four matches on day two of the 2019 Laver Cup carry eight critical points that could well determine whether or not the crown remains up for grabs on day three in Geneva. But despite Team Europe holding a 3-1 advantage after the first day’s play, captain Bjorn Borg will send out Rafael Nadal, whose fitness is uncertain after his exploits in New York, in both of the night matches.
The Spaniard squares off in a singles match against Laver Cup rookie Milos Raonic, a finalist at Wimbledon in 2016, in the first match of the session. Nadal will then team up with world #7 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Taylor Fritz in three sets on day one, to take on Team World’s Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios in the final match of day two.
Laver Cup Day Two Night Session Matches
Match 7: Rafael Nadal vs Milos Raonic
Head-to-head: Nadal 7-2 Raonic
On paper and on likely Geneva’s court, Nadal holds a substantial edge in this engagement. Riding high after his US Open win and a tremendous 2019 season that will almost certainly see him replace Novak Djokovic as the world #1 before the season’s end, Nadal surely possesses too many weapons and too much experience for Raonic. Notably, Nadal has played in the electric Laver Cup atmosphere before, having played two singles matches in 2017, beating Jack Sock before losing to John Isner.
Raonic, in contrast, is sorely lacking in both experience of the Laver Cup and match play in regular tour events. The Canadian has played just four matches since losing to Guido Pella in the fourth round at Wimbledon and has played only 31 matches on tour this season compared with Nadal’s 53. That said Raonic does possess a devastatingly effective serve that could cause Nadal some serious problems if it heats up. But the Spaniard has found a way to win a lot of matches this season. Expect him to do so again in Geneva.
Prediction: Nadal in 2
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Match 8: Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios
Head-to-head: first meeting
This match should be quite fascinating.
Team World’s Sock has played in every doubles match in Laver Cup history and brings a 5-2 record to this contest. Indeed, he is perhaps Team World’s trump card thanks to his excellent record in doubles, which surely justifies his selection in spite of his long stretch of poor form on the singles court. Nadal, meanwhile, who wore wrapping on his hand while on the Team Europe bench during day one will have to play back-to-back matches with little rest.
Kyrgios and Sock will become the first doubles team to play in three straight Laver Cups (they could be tied by Sock and John Isner on Sunday). As a Laver Cup duo, they stand undefeated at 2-0. Last season Sock, partnering with Kevin Anderson, proved too strong for even the august pairing of Roger Federer and Djokovic. And adding to the intrigue surrounding this match is the renewal of the often contentious rivalry between Kyrgios and Nadal.
Sock will surely have a point to prove after he and Denis Shapovalov lost to Federer and Alexander Zverev in the doubles on day one. After all, outgunned as Team World might be in the singles, in the doubles they arguably have the advantage thanks to 2014 Wimbledon champion Sock’s presence in their team. And with Kyrgios as his partner, there should be no shortage of electric and ambitious shot-making.
Tsitsipas and Nadal are outstanding players, but this will be their first outing as a doubles pairing and their inexperience could prove costly. Critics may well also question Europe’s captain Borg for choosing to play one of his star men in Nadal in both matches in the night session. That said, if Nadal proves unable to play in both singles and doubles, Borg could turn to Team Europe alternate Roberto Bautista Agut for the doubles. But either way, it is hard to look past the power and precision of Sock and Kyrgios in this one.
Prediction: Sock and Kyrgios in 2
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