Ben Shelton heard the doubters when he was chosen by John McEnroe to make his Laver Cup debut for Staff World. The American was blissful to show these naysayers flawed together with his breakout semi-final run on the US Open, and he continued to repay McEnroe’s religion on Friday with a straight-sets win in opposition to Staff Europe’s Arthur Fils.
In his first match since a defeat to eventual champion Novak Djokovic within the New York semis, Shelton was a 7-6(4), 6-1 winner in opposition to France’s Fils. Following that match, Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-5 to earn defending champion Staff World an early 2-0 lead within the first-to-13 occasion.
Shelton revelled within the staff setting, continuously interacting with the Vancouver crowd and the Staff World bench all through his opening victory.
“Come on, Johnny!” the American shouted to McEnroe after profitable six straight factors to win the opening tie-break from 1/4. “Yeah child!” was the captain’s reply.
“It has been superb,” Shelton stated of working together with his fellow American lefty. “Only a few key items of recommendation I’ve picked up on over the previous few days. It has been nice to be round him, and his vitality is unmatched. Having him as a captain at a staff occasion is superb. He undoubtedly matches my vitality out right here on the courtroom, and I am blissful to be enjoying for him and Staff World.”
A decent opening set didn’t see a break level for both participant, with only one level going in opposition to serve within the first six video games. Each gamers discovered early success by backing up large serves with heavy forehands on the indoor laborious courtroom.
It was Shelton’s success within the rallies that received him the opening set, with Fils’ errors costing him his lead within the tie-break. With the consolation of the lead, Shelton ran away with set two, creating break factors in all three return video games and changing twice.
“I believe the group actually acquired me going, having it in Canada. I do know it isn’t the U.S., however thanks for the World assist,” he stated. “I actually wished to have the ability to set the tone with my vitality for Staff World right now. I believe it went fairly properly, so I am excited to get on the bench and cheer for these guys the remainder of the day.”
Cerundolo accomplished a day-session sweep for his staff with a roller-coaster win in opposition to Spain’s Davidovich Fokina. Like Shelton, Cerundolo’s sport plan was additionally constructed round his large forehand. Whereas the Argentine was much less dominant on serve — he received 54 per cent of his first-serve factors to Shelton’s 84 per cent — he continuously stored his opponent underneath stress with energy and consistency off the bottom.
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A battling efficiency from Davidovich Fokina stored the scoreline shut, with the Spaniard denying his opponent’s makes an attempt to serve out the opening set at 5-1 and the second at 5-4. In each circumstances, Cerundolo responded brilliantly. With Staff Europe sensing a comeback late within the match, the Argentine used drop photographs on consecutive factors to interrupt from deuce at 5-5, then served out the victory from 15/30 on the second time of asking.
The Argentine stated he felt McEnroe’s affect from the sideline, profitable 12 factors within the frontcourt.
“To be trustworthy, I went to the online quite a lot of instances. I by no means go,” he stated. “Most likely as a result of I noticed John there and I attempted to repeat him a bit bit and I made some good factors. I hope he is proud of my volleys, at the least a bit bit,” he joked.
Staff World has by no means held a lead after Day 1 at Laver Cup. With one night win, they’ll end Friday with a bonus on the scoreboard.
Friday’s night session in Vancouver will see dwelling favorite Felix Auger-Aliassime tackle Staff Europe’s Gael Monfils earlier than People Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe play Fils and Andrey Rublev in doubles.
“We have got some new blood. There’s quite a lot of vitality,” McEnroe stated after Cerundolo’s victory. “I believe we have all the time had the staff spirit, however there’s an awesome staff feeling. And clearly we have are available weapons blazing. It is nice to have a lead.
“For Francisco to win, it means loads as a result of we have now a predominantly American staff. However he did his factor.”
The primary staff to achieve 13 factors will win the Laver Cup. One level is awarded for every victory on Friday, two factors for every win on Saturday, and three for every win on Sunday.