Laver Cup: Fritz holds off Rublev to extend Team World’s lead on day two
Team World have begun day two of the Laver Cup by extending their advantage over Team Europe, with Taylor Fritz defeating Andrey Rublev for a 6-0 lead.
With points worth double on Saturday, Fritz grabbed another two valuable points for his team, after Team World had executed a clean sweep of the first four matches on Friday. The win was not without its challenges, however, as after dropping a timid opening set, Rublev stormed back into the match and dominated Fritz for large periods of the second.
However, the American hung in the match, forcing a tiebreaker and playing brilliantly to bag the first singles match of the day.
Fritz starts fast, wins first set convincingly
To open play on day two of the 2023 Laver Cup, many were expecting Team Europe’s Andrey Rublev to be a strong chance against Taylor Fritz.
However, Rublev came out looking flat after his late-night doubles loss on day one, with Fritz quickly establishing a 2-0 after breaking his opponent in his opening service game. The Russian had flashes of brilliance, but on the whole it was a set dominated by the Team World representative, who won almost half of Rublev’s service points.
With two breaks of serve, Fritz quickly claimed the opening set, seeing Team World continue the way they began this Laver Cup, grabbing the ascendency early on day two.
“Any type of team environment always elevates my game. I always play better, my record in team events is really strong. It’s because I have a team cheering for me, I’m excited to play for them,” said the American after the match, explaining how he has been able to deliver such a high level of tennis.
“I like to have back and forth and explain to them what my thought process is. I like them to know where my head is at, that way they can be more constructive.”
Rublev changes tactic, powers back into match
To start the second set, Andrey Rublev came out with a very different tactic, looking to go after the ball more and target the backhand up the line.
The Russian found great success early on, quickly breaking Fritz’s serve and racing out to a 4-1 lead. Rublev was eviscerating any ball that fell marginally short, and also managed to find more first serves to pick up free points as well.
Just as the clash looked headed for a deciding third-set tiebreak, Rublev came off the boil, and Fritz pounced, breaking back for 4-4. As Fritz elaborated after the match:
“It was easy not to be too frustrated when I got broken in the second set, because I feel like I didn’t do too much wrong. He played a really good game, there wasn’t much I could do. Feel like I was having lots of looks on the return game, thought I could get back into it.”
The American forced a second set tiebreaker, playing some beautiful half volleys at the net in a Djokovic-esque performance that saw the world No 8 play error-free tennis, drawing mistakes from his opponent to win the tiebreak 7-3, claiming the match in straight sets.
Next up, Team Europe will look to get on the board this Laver Cup as they send out three-time Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud to take on Team World’s Tommy Paul in the second match of the day.