Alexander Zverev snatched the Laver Cup for Team Europe as he beat Canada’s Milos Raonic in the final rubber of a thrilling three days of action in Geneva’s Palexpo Arena on Sunday.
With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, winners of 39 Grand Slam titles between them, part of the supporting bench, Zverev showed immense composure to close out a 6-4, 3-6, 10-4 victory and hand Bjorn Borg’s team a 13-11 overall win.
With Nadal forced out with a hand injury at the start of the day and Federer suffering a doubles defeat, it looked as though John McEnroe’s Team World would claim the title for the first time since the event began in 2017.
But after Federer defeated John Isner to close the gap, Germany’s Zverev produced a flurry of superb backhands to beat the big-serving Raonic in the final rubber of the weekend.
After crunching a forehand winner, most of the 17,000 sell-out crowd erupted and Zverev was buried under his team mates with Federer, Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Fabio Fognini celebrating a third successive victory for Europe.
It had been very tight though with the World Team leading 11-7 in the middle of the afternoon.
With three points for each rubber won on Sunday, McEnroe’s team made a great start with Jack Sock and Isner beating Federer and Tsitsipas on the charcoal-coloured court.
American Taylor Fritz, in for the injured Nick Kyrgios, then extended his team’s lead by beating Dominic Thiem 7-5, 6-7(3), 10-5.
It meant that if Federer lost to Isner, Team World would win the title.
But with the Swiss crowd roaring his every winner, Federer preserved his 100 per cent singles record in the event by claiming a 6-4, 7-6(3) win before settling down at courtside to offer high-calibre vocal support to Zverev.
After Raonic battled back to level the match and set up a match tiebreak decider, Zverev left the court with Federer and Nadal in hot pursuit.
Their words of wisdom paid handsome dividends as Zverev fed off the energy from the crowd to play a superb tiebreaker.
“Team World came once again very close but we won the right points and had maybe a little bit of luck,” Swede Borg said.
“I’m very proud of my team, they did a hell of a job. I’m a very happy captain.”
American McEnroe looked crestfallen in defeat but congratulated his old adversary Borg.
“I’m getting very sick and tired of you,” the American great told Team Europe after suffering his third successive defeat by Borg’s men. “I’m so proud to be the captain of this team, they fought their hearts out. World, you guys are awesome.”
Federer, who won his two singles matches over the weekend including a classic against Kyrgios, said it had been a dream to win the title on home soil.
“For us, so many emotions. It’s been an unbelievable rollercoaster,” he said, “Bjorn, you’re a great captain, and Rocket (Rod Laver), thanks for being here today."
Resurgent Tsonga downs Bedene to claim fourth title in Metz
France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga rallied from a set down to beat Aljaz Bedene 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 in the Moselle Open final on Sunday for his fourth title in the tournament.
Playing in his fifth title clash in Metz, the 34-year-old fired 19 aces and won 92 per cent of points on his first serve as he overcame a wobbly start to seal a second title of the season following his triumph in Montpellier in February.
It was in Metz last year that world number 61 Tsonga had returned after a seven-month absence due to left knee surgery and the 2008 Australian Open finalist showed his battling qualities much to the delight of the home crowd.
Bedene, seeking his first tour-level trophy, edged a tight opening set but a determined Tsonga hit back in the second set to drag the contest into a decider.
With his powerful forehand firing on all cylinders, Tsonga raced into a 3-0 lead and never looked back, closing out the victory in two hours and 47 minutes.
Tsonga also became the ninth French champion in the last 11 editions of the tournament with 10 of his 18 ATP Tour trophies coming on home soil.