A day-one sweep on Friday saw captain John McEnroe’s Team World seize a 4-0 lead, and American Taylor Fritz pushed that to 6-0 with a 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) victory over Europe’s top-ranked player, world number six Andrey Rublev.
Ruud’s victory made it 6-2, but the Norwegian ranked ninth in the world, admitted he felt the pressure as he took the court — and said he got a little lucky to win a first-set tiebreaker in which he saved a set-point at 6-5.
“A bit of a steal maybe that tiebreak, 5-6 down and a big serve and a couple of big points,” he said. “Hopefully it can be somewhat of a momentum shift.”
Having snatched the first set, Ruud opened the second with a break. With Paul struggling to find a way to break down the Norwegian’s serve, Ruud broke again with a blistering service return to take a 5-2 lead and served it with a love game.
“Game on, baby,” he told the Rogers Arena crowd bathed in Team Europe’s blue light.
Eighth-ranked American Fritz had rallied from a break down in the second set to notch Team World’s fifth straight victory.
His aggressive ground strokes were much in evidence, but a pair of deft half-volleys — one to give himself a game point for 6-6 and another in the tiebreaker — also stood out in a victory that pushed the World lead to 6-0.
“I was telling my team, I feel like I’ve always been much better at the ‘handsy’ half-volley pick-ups and stuff,” Fritz said, adding that he thought he was more likely to miss the easier volleys.
Fritz had opened the match with a service break and cruised through the first set.
Rublev’s early break on the way to a 3-0 lead in the second did nothing to shake his confidence.
Staying with it
“It was easy not to be too frustrated when I got broken in the second set because I feel like I really didn’t do much wrong in the game that I got broken,” Fritz said. “He just played a really good game.
“I just told myself if I stayed with it then I could find a chance to get the break back.”
In the night session, Team World’s Frances Tiafoe takes on Europe’s Hubert Hurkacz.
Poland’s Hurkacz will then team with Gael Monfils in doubles against Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton.
Auger-Aliassime defeated French veteran Monfils in a sometimes testy singles encounter on Friday night, during which the Canadian was irked at some early match antics from Monfils that he found distracting.
Monfils took to social media on Saturday to deny that his efforts to engage the crowd meant he wasn’t taking the competition seriously.
“At 37, I’m simply trying to make the most of every moment,” he wrote on the social media platform X — formerly Twitter.
“When I was asked to take part in the Laver Cup, I was honored. With my current ranking, outside the top 100 at this age, I even thought it was a joke. But I take this opportunity very seriously, for the event, for my team and above all for myself.”
After one point was awarded for each win on day one, each win Saturday was worth two and on Sunday it will be three.
The first team to reach 13 points wins the trophy.
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