Berrettini edges Auger-Aliassime with gritty comeback at Laver Cup

Matteo Berrettini rallied to victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime to give Team Europe a 2-0 lead over Team World at Laver Cup.

Matteo Berrettini at the Laver Cup in Boston in 2021

EUROPE 2, WORLD 0, AFTER MATCH 2

Berrettini (Team Europe) d. Auger-Aliassime (Team World), 6-7(3), 7-5, 10-8

  • What happened: Matteo Berrettini battled back from a set down to give Team Europe a 2-0 lead over Team World at Laver Cup. The Italian saved 12 of 13 break points and won in a super tiebreak.
  • Why it matters: Team Europe has never lost to Team World in the Laver Cup, and they are off to a solid start in Boston. Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini each won to put the Europeans in the driver’s seat ahead of Friday’s night session at TD Garden.
  • You will also learn: Laver Cup’s unique scoring system means that Team World is far from out of the competition. Matches double in importance on Saturday (worth two points apiece) and on Sunday they triple (worth three points apiece). The first team to 13 points wins the competition.

Matteo Berrettini notched a dramatic victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-7(3), 5-7, 10-8, to give Team Europe a 2-0 lead over Team World on Friday at Laver Cup.

The Italian had to battle tooth and nail to overcome his friend and rival, saving 12 of 13 break points and working through tense moments late in the second as he saved two break points to hold for 6-5 then broke Auger-Aliassime to claim the set.

The 10-point tiebreak was close from start to finish but again it was Berrettini delivering in the clutch moments. He overcame a mini-break deficit and eventually pulled away to win three of the final four points.

“Of course, you know, disappointing ending,” Auger-Aliassime said after the match. “I really thought I had my chances there. I mean, it was so close. Of course it’s disappointing to lose.”

“Just fighting, I felt the match was really hard, Felix was really good, not giving me anything,” Berrettini said. “I felt a different energy, playing for my team not just for myself, for my family that is here – I felt great and they helped me a lot.”

The two hour and 52-minute contest goes down as the longest in Laver Cup history.

Berrettini is due back for doubles later in the evening.

“I have to be honest,” Berrettini said on court after the match. “When they told me I was going to play singles and doubles I didn’t think that singles will be that long.”

Federer in the House

Legend Roger Federer, who had to miss the Laver Cup for the first time this season due to season-ending knee surgery, was in attendance for both day session matches on Friday and received a massive ovation from the Boston crowd.

Federer, 40, owns a lifetime record of 6-0 at Laver Cup. The Swiss’s management company, TEAM8, is part owner of the Laver Cup.

Berrettini turned the tide with energy in set one

Though Berrettini was not able to come through the first set, he made a strong impression. He rallied back from 5-2 down, saving two set points before breaking for 4-5; two games later he saved another five set points while serving to stay alive in the set.

Auger-Aliassime finally took the marathon opening set on his eighth set point as he clinched it in the tiebreak.

Though he was not able to steal the set, the Italian set the tone for his comeback and eventually improved to 4-1 lifetime against Auger-Aliassime, and 3-1 in 2021.

“No one ever knows,” Team World captain John McEnroe said of the first set. “If he had won the set 6-3, maybe it would have been 7-6 in a tiebreak, but I think that sort of energized Berrettini.”

Inside the Numbers

Berrettini dominated with his forehand, striking 12 forehand winners. In total he hit 34 winners against 36 unforced errors, while Auger-Aliassime hit 27 winners against 37 unforced errors.

Berrettini hit seven aces and won 70 percent of his first-serve points (53 of 76) on the slow hard court surface.

Night session schedule:

There are two more matches to play on Friday in Boston. Here is the schedule for the night session at TD Garden, which begins at 7 PM EST.

Andrey Rublev (Team Europe) v Diego Schwartzman (Team World)

followed by:

Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev (Team Europe) v John Isner and Denis Shapovalov (Team World)

How Laver Cup scoring works

  • The event is played over three days. On Friday and Saturday, there is a day and night session followed by a final single day session on Sunday.
  • Each day four matches are played – three singles and a doubles.
  • Both singles and doubles are best of three sets with ad scoring. In the event of split sets, the third set is a 10-point match tiebreaker.
  • Each player competes in at least one singles match during the first two days.
  • No player can play singles more than twice during the three days.
  • At least four of the six players must play doubles. No doubles combination is played more than once, unless for the Decider on Day 3, if points are 12:12.
  • The winning team must reach 13 points.
  • In the event of a tie after all 12 matches are played, a final overtime doubles match – a Decider – is played as a regular set with ad scoring and a tiebreak.
  • Friday’s lineup is announced on Thursday afternoon | Saturday’s lineup is announced an hour after play ends on Friday night | Sunday’s lineup is announced an hour after play ends on Saturday night | Match-ups are determined through the exchange of lineup cards by the captains.
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