The Laver Cup: 2017 Tournament Review
Tennishead takes a look back at the matches that made the inaugural Laver Cup in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2017.
2017 Laver Cup Day One
The first Laver Cup was held at the O2 Arena in the Czech capital from 22-24 September 2017. The opening rubber was a singles match between world number five Marin Cilic of Croatia for Team Europe and world number 72 Frances Tiafoe of USA for Team World.
Despite the disparity in ranking, the two men contested a tight match. The opening set saw no breaks of serve, with Cilic sealing it in a tiebreak. Tiafoe broke to gain the advantage in the second, before the Croatian broke back to force another tiebreak, shutting out the American 7-0 there, finished with an ace. 1-0 Europe.
Match two saw world number seven Dominic Thiem of Austria take on big-serving American John Isner. As in the first match, the opening set saw no breaks, bringing up a third tiebreak in as many sets in the tournament.
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The pair proceeded to contest an epic breaker, seeing 32 points, but only five mini-breaks, as a serving masterclass from both men eventually saw Isner pull ahead 17-15 for the set.
Again, no breaks in the second brought yet another tiebreak, with the Austrian triumphing 7-2 on this occasion to force a deciding match tiebreak to 10. Thiem carried his momentum through to seal the match, 10-7 in the deciding breaker. 2-0 Team Europe.
The final singles match of the day pitted Germany’s world number four Alexander Zverev against world number 51 Denis Shapovalov of Canada.
Incredibly, this match also did not see a single break of serve during the battle, as Zverev secured a third win for Team Europe in straight sets, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) to give his team a 3-0 lead heading into the first doubles rubber.
The first doubles showdown saw world number one Rafael Nadal team up with captain’s pick Tomas Berdych, facing off against Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock. The Australian-US pairing had actually played doubles together on three occasions previously, each at Masters 100 events, and twice reaching semi-finals.
That advantage worked well for the Team World duo, claimed the opening set 6-3, and hung tough despite losing the second in a tiebreak to clinch a first point for their team, 10-7 in a deciding match tiebreak.
2017 Laver Cup Day Two
The first match of day two saw the arrival on-court of Roger Federer, taking on American world number 16 Sam Querrey. The maestro did not disappoint, overcoming Querrey 6-4, 6-2 in a little more than an hour on-court to widen the gap between Team Europe and Team World.
5-1 to Team Europe, as day two matches offered two points for each winner.
Next up Rafael Nadal did battle with Jack Sock in a first singles match for each man at the event. The two men split the first two sets 6-3 apiece before a tiebreak to 10 to decide the match.
A 20-point breaker saw Nadal seal it on his second match point to put Team Europe 7-1 ahead, closer to becoming inaugural Laver Cup champions.
Nick Kyrgios squared up to Tomas Berdych in the final singles match of day two. The Czech took advantage immediately in the opening set by breaking Kyrgios in the first game. Berdych then held on to claim the opener 6-4 in front of his home support.
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But the Aussie did not lie down and fought to level the match with a 7-4 win in the second set tiebreak. Serving to stay in it at 6-9 in the deciding tiebreak, a tight Berdych double fault handed the win to Kyrgios and Team World, making the overall tournament score 7-3 to Team Europe.
Finally, the closing doubles of day two brought up a blockbuster, as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal teamed up to take on all-American duo Sam Querrey and Jack Sock.
A tense match saw the Europeans pull ahead and take the opening set 6-4, before Sock and Querrey punched back to claim the second 6-1 and force a deciding tiebreak. Nadal and Federer took full control with three mini-breaks to go 8-3 up, eventually sealing the match to go 9-3 ahead overall heading to the final day of completition.
2017 Laver Cup Day Three
More doubles got the final day of play underway, with Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic facing John Isner and Jack Sock. A win for Team World would see them halve the score gap from 9-3 to 9-6, whereas if Europe won this tie they’d be guaranteed at least a deciding match by holding 12 points.
But the Americans made sure to ask the question, pulling through in two tiebreak sets, 7-5 and 8-6 respectively.
Alexander Zverev then fought Sam Querrey in the first singles of the day. A single break in each set for the German sealed victory, 6-4, 6-4, to bring Team Europe up to 12 points, meaning Team World would need to win the remaining two singles matches to tie the event and force a deciding match, otherwise Europe had won it.
Rafael Nadal versus John Isner was next with the Spanish world number one the heavy favourite. In six previous meetings, Nadal had been victorious every time.
But the American knew the stakes, digging deep to claim the opening set 7-5, and protecting his serve in the second set to force a tiebreak. From there Isner took full control, winning 7-1 to bring Team World’s tally to nine points and keep their Laver Cup hopes alive.
It all came down to the final match. Roger Federer against Nick Kyrgios. If Federer wins, Europe are champions. If Kyrgios wins, a deciding match is needed.
A nail-biting opening set sees the Aussie come out on top, 6-4, just what his team needed. But Federer knows how to handle pressure, taking the second set to a tiebreak and winning to tie the match. One last tiebreak to 10 to decide the match and possibly the tournament.
8-8 on the Kyrgios serve and he claims it with a winner, match point Team World. A Kyrgios rocket falls agonisingly long in the next point to tie the breaker at 9-9, before the Aussie misses a return into the net after the change of ends to set up a match, and Laver Cup, point for Federer.
Another net shot from Kyrgios seals the event, with Team Europe becoming inaugural Laver Cup champions by a scoreline of 15-9.
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