Laver Cup | Team Europe runs up a good lead on day one

Berrettini, Ruud, Rublev make winning starts

The pandemic-delayed fourth edition of the Laver Cup — and first without Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic — began on Friday with Team Europe taking a 3-1 lead over Team World thanks to singles victories from Matteo Berrettini, Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev.

Italy’s Berrettini, runner-up to Djokovic at Wimbledon in July, saved 12 of 13 break-points and came back to edge Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in a match tiebreaker 6-7 (3), 7-5, [10-8].

That came after Norway’s Ruud broke American Reilly Opelka in the third game and again to end the opening set along the way to a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory.

During the night session, Andrey Rublev of Russia edged Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in another match tiebreaker 4-6, 6-3, [11-9] to put Team Europe ahead 3-0, before John Isner of the U.S. and Denis Shapovalov of Canada put Team World on the board by defeating Alexander Zverev of Germany and Berrettini 4-6, 7-6(2), [10-1].

A team must reach 13 points to win the three-day competition. Each match victory is worth one point on Friday, two on Saturday and three on Sunday.

Team Europe has won all three Laver Cups so far, helped each time by Federer — whose management company is the driving force behind the exhibition — and either Nadal or Djokovic.

Last year’s event was postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The results: Team Europe leads Team World 3-1 {Casper Ruud bt Reilly Opelka 6-3, 7-6(4); Matteo Berrettini bt Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (3), 7-5, [10-8]; Andrey Rublev bt Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, [11-9]; Alexander Zverev & Berrettini lost to John Isner & Denis Shapovalov 4-6, 7-6(2), [10-1]}.

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