American Taylor Fritz drew Team World level at 4-4 in the Laver Cup on Saturday with a narrow victory over Team Europe’s Cameron Norrie after the hosts’ Matteo Berrettini had beaten Felix Auger-Aliassime in the day’s opener.
It was a case of the day after the night before at London’s O2 Arena after Roger Federer’s tear-jerking farewell match alongside Rafa Nadal had dominated day one.\
Spaniard Nadal withdrew from the team event for personal reasons but now retired 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer was back on duty, albeit from courtside offering his words of wisdom to his Europe team mates.
Italian Berrettini, who replaced Federer in the singles, edged out Auger-Aliassime 7-6(11) 4-6 10-7 in a hard-hitting contest that had another huge crowd captivated.
But Fritz showed that John McEnroe’s team are made of sterner stuff this year having been thrashed 14-1 last year in Boston, the fourth edition of the event.
He began like a house on fire against Norrie, himself a replacement for record 22-time major champion Nadal.
Norrie began slowly and Fritz took full advantage to win the opener 6-1 but the obdurate Norrie dug in deep to level the match after breaking at 4-4 in the second set.
The British player had the momentum but he slipped 8-4 behind in the match tiebreaker before being gifted a few points to level at 8-8. But Fritz would not be denied and claimed victory as Norrie struck a forehand long.
Fritz’s Team World team mates celebrated loudly with Frances Tiafoe especially pumped up.
“I live for these moments,” Fritz said on court. “I was so locked in and ready to go.”
American Tiafoe, who alongside Jack Sock ripped up the script to beat Federer and Nadal on Friday, will face Novak Djokovic later on Saturday in what will be the Serbian’s first match since winning Wimbledon in July to take his Grand Slam tally to 21.
The day concludes with Djokovic alongside Berrettini taking on Australia’s Alex De Minaur and American Sock.
Individual matches were worth one point on Friday, two on Saturday and three on Sunday.