Vancouver, Sep 24 (IANS): Team World moved to within one win of retaining its Laver Cup title when Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton downed Hubert Hurkacz and Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-4 to give John McEnroe’s side a 10-2 lead against Team Europe.
Competing here, Canadian Auger-Aliassime and American Shelton won 81 per cent (42/52) of their first-serve and points and saved all three break points they faced to triumph after one hour and 23 minutes.
After Casper Ruud had given Team Europe its first points earlier on Saturday, Frances Tiafoe added two points to Team World’s tally after storming past Hubert Hurkacz 7-5 6-3, extending extended his side’s lead to 8-2 over Team Europe.
Not only was the American trying to halt Team Europe's momentum after Casper Ruud won the second match of the day, but Tiafoe was trying to flip the script against Hubert Hurkacz, who had won their past three Lexus ATP Head-to-Head meetings.
In his first Laver Cup match, the Polish world No. 16 Hurkacz started strong. He held set point at 5-4 on Tiafoe’s serve, only for his rival to serve his way out of trouble. The first break of the match went Tiafoe’s way in the very next game, as Hurkacz, 26, sailed a forehand wide.
Brimming with confidence once he had the upper hand, Tiafoe closed out the opening set and then perfectly executed a backhand lob to break Hurkacz in the opening game of the second set.
His skills at the net were tested, but Tiafoe rose to the occasion, combining a behind-the-back forehand with a backhand volley winner that brought the Rogers Arena crowd to its feet. The right-hander maintained his composure to seal victory, which came courtesy of his Polish foe’s sole double fault, in one hour and 13 minutes.