“I really wanted to be able to set the tone with my energy for Team World today,” Shelton said after roaring home in one hour and 18 minutes. “I think it went pretty well.”
Team World are defending the title for the first time. Europe won the first four editions of the event that began in 2017, but Team World triumphed last year in London in an edition notable for a farewell doubles appearance by Swiss great Roger Federer alongside long-time rival Rafael Nadal.
Federer was in attendance at Rogers Arena — home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks — and received a huge ovation as the teams captained by John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg were introduced.
Shelton, the American 20-year-old whose sensational run to the US Open semi-finals saw him rise to 19th in the world, seized control in the first set tiebreaker.
Fils, a 19-year-old from France who earned his first ATP title at Lyon in May, led the tiebreaker 4-1, but Shelton won six straight points to pocket the set and grabbed a 3-1 lead in the second with the first service break of the contest.
As Fils’s unforced errors mounted, Shelton broke again for a 5-1 lead and served it out with aplomb.
A service winner gave him double match point and on the next point Fils netted the return of Shelton’s second serve to end it.
Shelton finished with seven aces and didn’t face a break point against the 44th-ranked Frenchman.
Shelton, last year’s US collegiate singles champion for the University of Florida, said he was enjoying playing again in a team format, and benefitting from the counsel of McEnroe, a left-hander like himself.
“It’s just amazing, the few pieces of advice that I picked up from him the last few days,” Shelton said. “It has been great to be around him.”
In Friday’s remaining singles matches, Team World’s Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina took on Europe’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain while Europe’s Gael Monfils of France faced Team World’s Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada.
Day one action concluded with Fils and Andrey Rublev teaming against Americans Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul in doubles.
Friday’s matches are worth one point while Saturday’s are worth two and Sunday’s three. The first team to reach 13 points wins.
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