Auger-Aliassime, Shelton put Team World on the brink of victory at Laver Cup
Ben Shelton and Felix Auger-Aliassime rolled past Gael Monfils and Hubert Hurkacz to put Team World on the brink of clinching the Laver Cup.
Team World has been in the groove all weekend at Laver Cup, and Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton made sure that the good times keep rolling on Sunday night as they delivered a decisive 7-5, 6-4 victory over Hubert Hurkacz and Gael Monfils to stretch their lead over Team Europe to 10-2 after two days of play in Vancouver.
Team World got victories from Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe in singles, and finished with three wins from four matches on the day.
It was a stellar performance from Shelton and Auger-Aliassime, who served magnificently across the one hour and 25-minute contest to put Team World one victory from their second consecutive Laver Cup triumph.
Shelton and Auger-Aliassime saved all three break points they faced and relied on a bevy of unreturned first serves to keep their opponents at bay. They broke open an extremely close opening set by winning 12 of the final 13 points to rally from 4-5 to 7-5, then broke critically in the second set for 4-3.
Shelton says it was simple playing with Auger-Aliassime, despite the fact that they have not played together before.
“I thought things were clicking between us on the court today,” he said. “Playing with a guy like Felix who loves to play downhill, has a massive serve, you know, plays strong off the return and volleys as well as he does, and as athletic as he is, it’s pretty easy to figure things out.
“You know he’s going to find forehands and rip them. That’s an easy ball for me to move and poach off of. I thought things were fairly simple playing with him out there, and I really enjoyed being able to play an attacking style of tennis.”
Hurkacz and Monfils saved four match points to stay alive in the ninth game of the second set, winning a dramatic 20-point game to close to 4-5, but Shelton quickly stepped to the line after the change of ends and served out the win to 15.
“Ben carried me through the end of that match,” Auger-Aliassime told the crowd after the match. “It was tough for me to get it done. But with his serve, I knew that we could get this done. So happy to share the court with him today.”
Shelton returned the favour to his teammate, saying it was Auger-Aliassime’s fine-tuned doubles game that led the way.
“It’s amazing when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, and is as athletic as him,” Shelton said. “It’s a fun time out here. You know, we call him “Laver Cup Felix,” because he turns into something special this week. So just happy to share the court with him at least once.”
In truth both players deserve credit for a crisp, efficient performance in which they pressured Monfils and Hurkacz from start to finish. They earned 13 break points on the night, and always seemed a step ahead of their opponents.
One win to clinch
Team World needs just one victory to lock up their second consecutive Laver Cup. Sunday’s four-match slate, in which all matches are worth three points, starts with doubles.