LONDON: For two players who are in the early stages of their careers, a rivalry has already formed between them.
Stefanos Tsitsias was fully aware of the danger he faced against Canadian 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime on Friday at The Fever-Tree Championships. The youngest player to contest a quarter-final match at Queen’s since Marin Cilic back in 2007. As a junior, he lost all three of their meetings at prestigious events that include the US Open and the Eddie Herr International. Furthermore, Auger-Aliassime downed his Greek rival in straight sets earlier this year at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
It is for this reason why Auger-Aliassime’s latest win over Tsitsipas is not as much of a shock as it appears. He may be ranked 15 places below Tsitsipas and yet to win an ATP title, but the rising star had all the answers during his 7-5, 6-2, win at Queen’s.
“I have zero expectations coming here,” Auger-Aliassime said following his latest victory. “Obviously I had a great week last week, but it is so much different coming here (to Queen’s).”
“I had three matches against amazing players that I could have lost, but I handled my nerves and kept my serve all the time. So it’s all good.”
There was little disparity between the two during the first half of the match with both players having their chances. Three games in, Tsitsipas saw two consecutive break points in his favor come and go. Heading into the business stage, leading 6-5, Auger-Aliassime pounced at the most critical time. Taking advantage of some tentative shot-making from across the court and hitting the ball deep, he broke for the first time to clinch the set.
Swiftly gaining momentum on the court, the world No.21 continued to frustrate and dismantle his opponents serve. Breaking once again at the start of the second set on route to a commanding 3-0 lead.
To add further to Tsitsipas’ woes, he required a medical time out for physio on his right shoulder. An indication that he was suffering from the aftermath of his marathon three-set clash with Jeremy Chardy on the day before.
The break had little impact on the outcome of the match. Continuing the dodge the bullets fired by Tsitsipas, the underdog rallied towards the finish line. Becoming the youngest player to reach the semi-finals of the tournament since Lleyton Hewitt back in 1999.
“I felt good from the start, I think he was playing well as well. I think he was serving good. It was key for me to save those break points early in the first set. Then be able to hold my serve throughout the set.” He evaluated his performance.
“I started an amazing way in the second. Aggressive, moving him around. I’m happy with the way I handled myself today to get through.”
Now boasting a career 5-0 head-to-head lead over Tsitsipas, Auger-Aliassime paid tribute to his opponent.
“I think he will be a great champion, he already is. He’s number six in the world, so if I can be at the top as well and fight for these titles against him. That will be great for both of us.” He said.
There will be little time to rest for Auger-Aliassime, who will play in the doubles later in the day. Partnered with Alex de Minaur, if they win that match they will take on Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez in the evening.
Earlier in the day, Daniil Medvedev eased his way into the semi-finals with a comprehensive 77-minute win over Deigo Schwartzman. A player who has only won one match on the grass on the ATP Tour prior to this week. Medvedev dictated from the onset against the Argentine as he broke four times, twice in each set, on route to the 6-2, 6-2, victory.
“It was a great match, but it wasn’t as easy as the score suggests. There were some tight games.” Medvedev told BBC Sport.
“I’m happy with my level and happy to be in the semi-finals.”
The 23-year-old is the first Russian player in history to reach the last four of Queen’s. Against Schwartzman, Medvedev hit 24 winners to 18 unforced errors.
Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup
Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar. Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup. Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first.
Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time. And each match on Sunday is worth three points.
Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm
Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles. So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday. Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday. Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist. If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.
Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)
Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles. While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever. Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.
Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay. It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1). And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday. Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary
Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games. He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts. However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.
Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary
Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday. If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.
The full Laver Cup schedule is here.
Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday
In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2. And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit. With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup?
Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day. Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm. And each match on Saturday is worth two points.
Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm
These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions. Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event. Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati. Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup. Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.
Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session
Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play. Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive. Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17. Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon. They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets. Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.
Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm
Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday? He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock. Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios. The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.
Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5. Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York. Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets. Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day. But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.
Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session
Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here. This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals. Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2. De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.
The full Laver Cup schedule is here.
Frances Tiafoe And Jack Sock Ready To Rain On Federer’s Parade At Laver Cup
Frances Tiafoe describes his first match at this year’s Laver Cup as ‘iconic’ but he is determined to seal victory with doubles partner Jack Sock.
Tiafoe, who reached the semi-finals of the US Open earlier this month, will feature in what will be the final match of Roger Federer’s illustrious career. The Swiss maestro has announced that the team competition will be the last event he will play before retiring from the sport at the age of 41. Federer will partner up with long-time rival Rafael Nadal in what promises to be an emotional encounter for all involved on Friday evening.
“It’s going to be iconic to be part of that,” Tiafoe told reporters in London. “Both guys are absolute legends, and obviously Roger’s last dance. We are definitely just out there trying to get a win.”
Looking at the wider picture, Tiafoe knows a win in the doubles could prove vital in team World’s bid to win the Laver Cup for the first time in history. Whilst on paper his achievements are overshadowed by those he faces, his current form gives him the edge. Federer hasn’t played a match since Wimbledon last year due to a knee injury. Furthermore, Nadal is still trying to get back to his best shape following an abdominal injury and was beaten by Tiafoe at the US Open.
“This is a special night. I just think me and Jack are just looking for a special night, come out there, have fun,” he continued. “The crowd is obviously going to be for them. You understand that kind of moment, and just go out there and do your part and just try to get a win. It’s going to be a special night tomorrow. I’m just happy I get the opportunity to do it with Jack.”
Sock, who has won three Grand Slam titles during his career, echoes Tiafoe’s desire to seal victory over the two tennis giants.
“I’m just stoked to be a part of it with my guy Foe (Tiafoe),” he said.
“We will go out and enjoy the moment, but not going to hold anything back. Sorry, Roger. Don’t want to spoil the night.”
Federer’s final match at The O2 Arena in London is set to take place in front of a sellout crowd. Following his retirement announcement, ticket sales for the three-day event have exploded. Ace Odds have reported a 4020% rise in demand for tickets with prices starting from £900. An extraordinary outcome considering the most expensive ticket for the Laver Cup was originally £510.
The doubles match involving Federer, Nadal, Tiafoe and Sock is estimated to start around 20:20 BST on Friday.
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