Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Roger Federer & Sascha Zverev help team Europe seize 2nd Laver Cup



























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Team Europe are Laver Cup champions once again after Alexander Zverev fought back to beat Kevin Anderson and clinch the winning points in Chicago.

Zverev came through 6-7(3) 7-5 10-7 in a match tiebreaker to seal a 13-8 victory for Europe, sparking wild scenes as the blue bench emptied with players racing to celebrate on court.

Twelve months on from their success at the inaugural Laver Cup in Prague, Zverev and Roger Federer were able to celebrate getting their hands on the trophy for a second time, while Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and Kyle Edmund were champions on debut.

“It was such a close match all around, not only this one but all weekend, a few points here and there and it could have been different,” said Zverev.

“I’m just happy to get the win and we defended the title, that’s the most important thing.

Team World went desperately close to forcing a deciding match between Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios, a remarkable effort after they fell 7-1 behind following Saturday’s afternoon session.

A dramatic doubles win for John Isner and Jack Sock, saving two match points against Zverev and Federer, put the reds in front for the first time on Sunday, and Isner then missed out in an epic clash with Federer that saw the American fail to convert three match points.

That left the destiny of the trophy in the hands of Zverev and he duly finished the job, but only after an almighty battle.

The German saw a couple of early break-point chances disappear, while Anderson racked up six opportunities without making the breakthrough.

Tiebreakers were always likely to be necessary, and it was the South African who grabbed the initiative in the opener, surging into a 6-2 lead and converting his second set point with a heavy backhand.

The second set looked to be following a similar pattern until Anderson had a golden opportunity at 0-40, but Zverev played himself out of trouble superbly, to the delight of his watching teammates.

When a net cord then took him to break point, the German stepped in and upped the intensity, drawing a backhand error as Anderson was finally broken.

With the scores level, another match tiebreaker came into play at the United Center, and it was another rollercoaster.

Anderson edged ahead several times, only to be repeatedly pegged back, and an unplayable Zverev lob shifted the momentum decisively.

In a tournament that had seen numerous match points go unconverted, Zverev made no mistake this time, falling back to the court as his teammates and captain piled on top of him in celebration.

“It’s been an unbelievable week,” said Borg.

“This is actually my favorite week of the year. I’m very proud of my team, we knew it’s going to be very difficult to beat Team World with John as the captain. He has a great team, they’re very professional.”

McEnroe said: “I’d just like to congratulate Team Europe. It was a great effort, great match, unbelievably exciting.

“This team [World], I’m so proud of these guys. They’ve got great camaraderie and we’re going to win this one next year!”


LaverCup.com

Monday, September 24, 2018

Roger Federer wins a thriller vs Isner to give Team Europe a chance at retaining Laver Cup










Roger Federer saved three match points as he beat John Isner in a dramatic match to put Team Europe one win away from retaining the Laver Cup in Chicago.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion came through a pulsating encounter at the United Center 6-7(5) 7-6(6) 10-7 to give his side a 10-8 lead.

Alexander Zverev can take Team Europe to the winning 13-point mark if he beats Kevin Anderson in Match 11.

Federer steadied the European ship after he and Zverev had failed to convert two match points in Sunday’s opening doubles against Isner and Jack Sock.

That defeat meant the team in blue had seen a 7-1 lead turn into a 7-8 deficit, giving Team World and their home crowd real belief that they could complete a miraculous fightback.

It was still a tall order for Isner, who beat Rafael Nadal at the same stage last year, but he stuck to his game plan of big serves and short points, and Federer made little impact as they powered towards a tiebreaker.

From an early break down the American overhauled Federer with a rasping forehand return on set point that sparked pandemonium on the World bench, with Sock and Nick Kyrgios – both wearing Chicago Bulls jerseys – charging up to celebrate with Isner.

A sweeping forehand down the line and a backhand arrowed cross-court gave Federer the first two break points of the match at 3-3 in the second, but Isner slammed the door shut with some unreturnable serves.

Unable to get the breakthrough, Federer was increasingly vulnerable as the set progressed, and Isner almost capitalized when the Swiss first served to stay in the match.

Two blistering winners brought up match point but the American sent a loose forehand long and they headed into a second tiebreaker, with a potential 10-point match tiebreaker beyond that.

In a thrilling passage of play, Isner earned another two match points at 6-4 only for Federer to find an ace and then rip a spectacular backhand winner, and the Swiss went on to level with an ace.

World had now squandered six match points across the three days in Chicago and Federer made sure Europe took advantage once again, taking control from 5-5 in the decider and earning his first match points at 9-6.

Isner saw off the first with a deft volley but Federer clinched it with a forehand after almost two hours of gripping tension, and the Team Europe bench finally challenged their World rivals in the celebration stakes with a display of team press-ups.

Asked if this kind of match was what he had envisioned at the Laver Cup, Federer joked: “I’m not sure if I wanted it to be that exciting but, oh man, what a match, what a weekend. Thank you Chicago.

“Regardless of what happens it’s been a successful week and weekend, we’ve loved it. I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come now.

“The good thing is we could lose the next one, so that takes the pressure off.”

lavercup.com

Matches like these are what make this event so much fun.  

Not to mention nowhere else will you see Roger Federer play 2 doubles matches, that in itself is worth all the money in my book (despite the fact he lost both this time).

It concerns me a little that he continues to have so much trouble closing out matches when he's in the lead this year (and especially in tie-breaks vs the big servers). 

Hopefully that is something that will turn around for him in the Asian swing in October. 

It was a spectacular comeback by the Swiss man today though, one I will look back on fondly. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Roger Federer & Sascha Zvarev team up but also lose in Laver Cup doubles












Team World took the lead for the first time at Laver Cup 2018 thanks to a gripping doubles victory for John Isner and Jack Sock over Team Europe’s Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev in Chicago.

The American pair saved two match points as they won 4-6 7-6(2) 11-9 to give Team World an 8-7 lead on the final day, with three points for a win and 13 required to take the trophy.

Federer and Isner will return to court straight away for the first of a potential three singles matches at the United Center.

Isner will hope to carry the momentum that has brought World back from 7-1 behind on Saturday afternoon to leading with three matches left to play.

It looked as though Europe would reassert control when Federer and Zverev dominated the early stages, taking the first set thanks to a beautiful Zverev lob on break point.

With the blue shirts edging towards victory in the second set, an increasingly partisan Chicago crowd played their part in energizing the World players and bench.

A huge groan filled the arena when Isner leaked a forehand wide on their first break point of the match, but the Americans were on the front foot and raced away with the tiebreaker to level the scores.

A match tiebreaker was required and this time it was Europe who made the early running, edging 6-4 clear when Sock put a volley over the baseline.

Novak Djokovic was on his feet, urging his teammates on when Isner framed a forehand to put the Cup holders 8-5 up, before a terrific Sock forehand winner cut the deficit to 8-7.

It fell to Federer to try and close it out on serve, but this time Isner lined up a forehand down the line and made it before a sharp Sock volley levelled up at 9-9, and had McEnroe, the red bench and the whole United Center roaring their approval.

The sound had barely died down when it went up a few more decibles as Isner hammered down an ace for match point, and the comeback was complete when Zverev sent a backhand long, prompting leaping World players to mob their victorious teammates.

“That was epic, you guys were absolutely amazing, holy cow,” Sock told the crowd. “The first lead in Laver Cup history for Team World, that feels amazing.”

“We played the GOAT in our sport and a guy who’s extremely solid in the top five in the world, so I’m not sure how much we were favourites. We kept our heads up all weekend after being down early.”

Asked if his doubles partner could now take down Federer in singles, Sock added: “Hell yeah.”

Roger Federer & Novak Djokovic team up for Laver Cup doubles








Nowhere as good as Fedal, but still fun, too bad they lost


Jack Sock and Kevin Anderson saw off Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic 6-7 6-3 10-6 in the Laver Cup doubles to give Team World their first point of the tournament in Chicago.

Excitement had been building ever since it was announced the former world number ones would pair up for Team Europe in the competition's second year - with the blue side hoping to take a clean sweep into the weekend after a trio of singles wins earlier in the day.

Federer and Djokovic took a while to settle into the four-man format, the latter - on the back of his singles US Open triumph and 14th grand slam title - accidentally hitting his partner with the ball in the third game.

The Serbian and Swiss both laughed off the incident to the amusement of the crowd and went on to clinch the first-set tie-break 7-6 (7/5).

But their opponents soon found their rhythm, taking the second set 6-3, with Sock's experience as a three-time doubles major champion shining through on some impressive volley shots and Anderson displaying a strong serve.


The foursome went toe-to-toe in the early stages of the last set, but having seen their team-mates lose in two deciders earlier in the day, Sock and Anderson made sure not to waste their opportunity when Federer doubled-faulted at 4-4.


An impressive return winner from Sock sealed the set 10-6, giving captain John McEnroe a little relief before day two.

The doubles game followed three singles matches earlier in the day - Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov putting the first point on the board for Europe after beating Frances Tiafoe 6-1 6-4.

Britain's Kyle Edmund, a Laver Cup debutant, claimed an impressive 6-4 5-7 10-6 win over Sock and match three saw Belgium's David Goffin add to Europe's advantage as he beat Argentina's Diego Schwartzman 6-4 4-6 11-9.

Schwartzman had looked to threaten Europe's lead with a second-set comeback, and dug deep at 5-1 down in the last to level at 7-7, but Goffin remained calm on his first match point to cheers and hugs from his team-mates and captain Bjorn Borg.

Team Europe now lead 3-1 with two points up for grabs on day two.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Roger Federer considering playing on clay in 2019?

CHICAGO -- Roger Federer is contemplating a significant change to his 2019 schedule.

Federer, who credited much of his resurgence since the start of 2017 in which he won three majors to a decision to avoid the entire European clay-court segment (including the French Open), might return to the red-dirt grind next season.

"The clay-court season is under review," Federer told ESPN.com at the Laver Cup, which begins Friday. "It's not off the table. I will know by the end of the year."

Avoiding the clay enabled Federer, 37, to save energy, train and adequately prepare his game for the grass-court season. Grass is the surface on which Federer's game is most effective, and Wimbledon begins less than a month after the end of the French Open.

Federer did not say how many clay events he might play, but he has three ATP Masters 1000 events to choose from, as well as a host of lesser events before the French Open begins.

"I would like to make up my mind ahead of time so I can plan my buildup, my fitness schedule, even the way I would approach my December practice sessions," Federer said. "It could benefit the clay-court season."

The No. 2-ranked Federer knows what he is up against. "This is something that is obviously a big deal. If you play the clay, it changes everything."

Federer played in five French Open finals, winning one in 2009, when he completed his career Grand Slam. All four of his finals losses were to Rafael Nadal, who is the defending champion at Roland Garros and still ranked No. 1 in the world.

Federer's ranking could be impacted by this decision. A good result would earn him clay points for the first time in two years. But should Federer struggle on the clay or find himself low on energy later in the year because he played on the clay, it could have a negative effect. So why would he return to clay?.

Roger Federer helps keep Team Europe in front with Kyrgios defeat at Laver Cup

TEAM Europe have tightened their grip on a second Laver Cup triumph as they extended their lead to 7-1 after Roger Federer dazzled Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev defeated John Isner.

The roars at the United Center in Chicago the previous evening were reserved more for underdogs Team World but there was no escaping Federer’s casual brilliance on day two, as he won 6-3, 6-2 in a tour de force.

“I felt good from the beginning and that’s not usual. We need some matches to get going, but today I was very clear in my game plan and I got wonderful support from my team,” Federer said in his post-match court-side interview.

Kyrgios, the high-spirited Australian, tends to reserve his best for the greats of the game.

He regularly loses to inferior players but is 1-3 against Federer. And so the game between the two immensely talented players went again, just as it had three weeks ago at the US Open, as Kyrgios was left in awe of the shot selection employed by Federer.

It took just three games for Federer to break Kyrgios in the opening set, but he waited even less in the second, breaking him in his first service game of the second set with a masterful combination of play that kept the crowd in rapture.

That is not to take anything away from Kyrgios, however.

At times, he also was sharp, and sent blitzing passing shots past Federer but the glimpses of brilliance were far too few.

At a crucial juncture in the second, with Kyrgios trying to save a break point at 1-3 with Federer holding an advantage, a line judge called his ace out. The computer system Hawk-eye showed otherwise and the chair umpire ruled the point to be recontested.

That prompted vocal protests from Kyrgios, who branded the decision a “s*** judgment”, while Team World captain John McEnroe tongue-in-cheek commented he hoped the umpire would “get a little present after the match”.

But by the end of the one-hour and 40-minute encounter, Federer simply proved a superior player. He only found his rhythm more in the second set to win 22 more winners than Kyrgios and served out the match with an eighth ace. German Zverev rallied to beat new dad Isner 3-6 7-6 10-7.

news.com.au