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Sensational Tiafoe beats Tsitsipas to give Team World first ever Laver Cup victory

The American played two exceptional tiebreaks to give Team World an unassailable 13-8 lead

Team World winning the Laver Cup, 2022 Team World winning the Laver Cup, 2022 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Frances Tiafoe was the hero for Team World as he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8 on Sunday to give Team World victory in the Laver Cup for the first time.

The American was thoroughly outplayed in the first set and Tsitsipas had four match points in the second-set tiebreaker but Tiafoe held firm to clinch an unassailable 13-8 lead for Team World.

Europe, who won all four previous Laver Cups, led 8-4 overnight but lost the first three matches to leave Team World with a lead that can’t be beaten, with 13 points required for victory.

“I kept saying all week, this was our year,” Tiafoe said. “We all did it together, it wasn’t just me. I showed a lot of heart to get it done. I was getting my ass kicked there for a while. We’re going to celebrate big time tonight.”

It was an impressive turnaround from Team World who, on paper at least, were serious underdogs.

Team Europe had the highest-ranked player – Casper Ruud at No 2 – and five members of the world’s top two in their ranks. But with Federer playing his retirement match and Rafael Nadal playing just one doubles, they were not quite as strong as they might have looked.

Frances Tiafoe, Laver Cup 2022, day 3 | © AI/Reuters/Panoramic

Felix Auger-Aliassime had put Team World in front for the first time with a shock win over Novak Djokovic earlier in the day, having partnered Jack Sock to victory over Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini in the doubles to open the day.

But even then, most people would have made Tiafoe an underdog to get them over the line. That, though, was before the American showed what he can do under pressure.

Tsitsipas rips through first set

The first set was one-way traffic as Tsitsipas, who had won his singles match on day one, hit the ground running, barely giving Tiafoe any chance to breathe. Perhaps inspired by having Federer in his ear, he raced through the first set in just 21 minutes.

Tiafoe wins epic tiebreak to level

The second set was far more competitive, though, as Tiafoe matched Tsitsipas from the baseline, staying even on serve to take it to a tiebreak.

Having won a record eight out of eight tiebreaks at the US Open, and 24 out of 35 in 2022, Tiafoe would have fancied his chances, but the tiebreak itself was almost as long as the first set as both men had their chances.

With Roger Federer on the sidelines begging him to take his time, Tsitsipas had four match points but couldn’t take them and Tiafoe, after missing two set points, finally took his third with an exquisite backhand volley winner which caught the outside of the line.

That took it to a match tiebreak. Tsitsipas led 2-0 but was immediately pegged back to 2-2. At 4-4, Tiafoe played an incredible point to get the mini-break for 5-4, running down a great drop shot to play a superb angled forehand winner.

At 8-4, Tiafoe looked to have the match won but Tsitsipas got back to 8-7 only to falter and Tiafoe finally got the job done when Tsitsipas netted a forehand.

TEAM WORLD 13-8 TEAM EUROPE

Day 3:
Tiafoe (W) – Tsitsipas (E) 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8
Auger-Aliassime (W) – Djokovic (E) 6-3, 7-6 (3)
Sock & Auger-Aliassime (W) – Berrettini & Murray (E) 2-6, 6-3, 10-8

Day 2:
Djokovic/Berrettini (E) – Sock/De Minaur (W) 7-5, 6-2
Djokovic (E) – Tiafoe (W) 6-1, 6-3
Tiafoe (W) – Norrie (E) 6-1, 4-6, 10-8
Berrettini (E) – Auger-Aliassime (W) 7-6 (11), 4-6, 10-7

Day 1:
Ruud (E) – Sock (W) : 6-4, 5-7, [10-7]
Tsitsipas (E) – Schwartzman (W) : 6-2, 6-1
De Minaur (W) – Murray (E) : 5-7, 6-3, [10-7]
Tiafoe/Sock (W) – Nadal/Federer (E) : 4-6, 7-5, [11-9]

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