Ben Shelton heard the doubters when he was selected by John McEnroe to make his Laver Cup debut for Team World. The American was happy to prove those naysayers wrong with his breakout semi-final run at the US Open, and he continued to repay McEnroe’s faith on Friday with a straight-sets win against Team Europe’s Arthur Fils.
In his first match since a defeat to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the New York semis, Shelton was a 7-6(4), 6-1 winner against France’s Fils, earning defending champion Team World an early 1-0 lead in the first-to-13 event.
The American revelled in the team environment, constantly interacting with the Vancouver crowd and the Team World bench throughout the victory.
“Come on, Johnny!” Shelton shouted to McEnroe after winning six straight points to win the opening tie-break from 1-4. “Yeah baby!” was the captain’s reply.
“It’s been amazing,” Shelton said of working with his fellow American lefty. “Just a few key pieces of advice I’ve picked up on over the last few days. It’s been great to be around him, and his energy is unmatched. Having him as a captain at a team event is amazing. He definitely matches my energy out here on the court, and I’m happy to be playing for him and Team World.”
A tight opening set did not see a break point for either player, with just one point going against serve in the first six games. Both players found early success by backing up big serves with heavy forehands on the indoor hard court.
It was Shelton’s success in the rallies that won him the opening set, with Fils’ errors costing him his lead in the tie-break. With the comfort of the lead, Shelton ran away with set two, creating break points in all three return games and converting twice.
“I think the crowd really got me going, having it in Canada. I know it’s not the U.S., but thanks for the World support,” he said. “I really wanted to be able to set the tone with my energy for Team World today. I think it went pretty well, so I’m excited to get on the bench and cheer for these guys the rest of the day.”
Team World’s Francisco Cerundolo will meet Team Europe’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second of four matches on Friday in Vancouver, rounding out the day session. Friday’s evening session will see home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime take on Gael Monfils before Americans Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe play Fils and Andrey Rublev in doubles.
The first team to reach 13 points will win the Laver Cup. One point is awarded for each victory on Friday, two points for each win on Saturday, and three for each win on Sunday.
from Tennis – ATP World Tour https://ift.tt/IQNpuGT