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It was a thrilling opening to the Laver Cup in London on Friday as Team Europe jumped to a 2-0 lead with Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas getting their team off to the perfect start.

The London crowd was treated to a light show spectacular as the captains and players from Team Europe and Team World were introduced to the fans before Rod Laver was welcomed and thanked by the adoring crowd with event organisers paying tribute to the 60th anniversary of Rocket Rod’s first calendar Grand Slam.

The opening match saw world number 2 Casper Ruud earn a nail-biting win over Laver Cup veteran Jack Sock 6-4, 5-7, 10-7.

Ruud looked the more settled player early and broke Sock immediately and raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set. After settling into the match, Sock threatened the Norwegian and eventually broke back as Ruud served for the set at 5-3.

The Team World bench rose and embraced the American at the change of ends, however, Ruud composed himself and broke immediately to seal the set 6-4.

Having held off Sock’s advances you’d be forgiven for thinking the world number 2 would storm home. The Team Europe bench appeared to share this sentiment as for large portions of the second set only Stefanos Tsitsipas was present to support Ruud while the entirety of the Team World contingent was present to encourage their teammate.

At 5-5 in the second set, Ruud’s ordinarily rock-solid game appeared to abandon him as Sock – who looked the lesser player for the majority of the match – benefited from two double faults to break serve and quickly take the set 7-5.

With the Team World bench up and on their feet, Sock carried his momentum into the match tiebreaker and led 3-0 in the blink of an eye. After taking the next two points, Ruud looked certain to go down 4-2 as he ran back to the baseline to hit a tweener lob that ought to have been easily dispatched by Sock, however, to the shock of the entire stadium, the American dumped his overhead smash into the net and gifted Ruud the point. From there it was all Team Europe as the steady Ruud took 7 of the next 11 points to seal the win for Team Europe with a forehand winner down the line.

Speaking after the match, the American jokingly said “I don’t remember” the point at 3-2 in the match tiebreaker.

Nonetheless, the American was optimistic that his team had the ingredients to succeed this weekend with the camaraderie from the bench a Team World trademark.

“I mean, I think that's one thing we do better every year. I mean, we are a pretty close-knit group, not in any negative way towards [Team Europe], but I think that's also why we compete in this every year that I've been a part of it and I feel like we have a lot of chances. “Another one today that just stings even more just because we were that close again. I had a lot of chances. Few things let me down at the end I wish I could have back.

“Yeah, without the support from the bench with all those guys, obviously could be a completely different story. I think as long as we keep doing that over the weekend, I don't see why we can't be right there at the end,” he said.

On the other hand, Casper Ruud spoke of how he found a way to steady the ship after a wayward game at 5-5 in the second set with some helpful advice from his teammates.

“In the really important moments I was able to win most of the points today. Yeah, that second set I played an awful game at 5-all which was not good, made two double faults, went too risky with my second serve. I couldn't sort of get a hold of Jack's game and especially his serve,” Ruud explained.

“Obviously I was focused about the match and trying to win it, but it's fun, you turn around and have Rafa on one side and Roger on the other side trying to help you. I didn't feel, even though I lost the second set, I didn't feel like I needed like an unbelievable amount of help, but they came with some good tips.

“I never played a deciding set in Laver Cup before, so when we got to the deciding one, they told me, you know, just stick to the right things, play one point by one point. Super-tiebreak is only three points more than a normal tiebreak but it seems much longer.

“I think that was good advice. Yeah, it feels a bit surreal to have them on both sides.”

In the second match, after entering the court with Team Europe up 1-0, Greek superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas picked up where Ruud left off as he required only 75 minutes to defeat Diego Schwartzman (who is still looking for this first Laver Cup points) 6-2, 6-1.

Tsitsipas was too strong, too fast, and too powerful for the Argentinean who was never really in the match.

The loss leaves Team World down 0-2.


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