Laver Cup: Roger Federer praises 'camaraderie' within his team
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Roger Federer is still helping Team Europe in their quest for a fourth successive Laver Cup victory despite being forced to pull out of the team event he co-created. The 20-time Grand Slam champion surprised everyone by arriving in Boston for the tournament following a knee surgery that forced him to withdraw. It seems he has been unable to remain an unbiased spectator though, as Alexander Zverev admitted the Swiss star was giving him coaching advice from the stands during his narrow victory over Team World’s John Isner.
Federer has been part of Team Europe since the inaugural Laver Cup, held in Prague in 2017, and led the squad to victory for the last three editions.
The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic and returned this year in Boston, though the world No 9 was forced to withdraw from the 2021 edition after announcing he was undergoing a third knee surgery in under two years and would be away from the tour for “many months”.
He was expected to miss the fourth edition of the Laver Cup entirely but surprised everyone by arriving in Boston earlier this week, to soak up the atmosphere from the stands alongside the rest of the fans.
Though the 40-year-old was warned he couldn’t show bias towards Team Europe now he was no longer part of the group of players or coaches, it seems he hasn’t been able to resist helping his former team-mates secure much-needed wins in the quest to remain undefeated at the event.
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Alexander Zverev, who has represented Team Europe at all four Laver Cup tournaments and clinched victory for the squad in 2019 with a dramatic win over Milos Raonic in the final match of the three-day event, faced John Isner in the second singles match of day two, looking for two extra points on the board.
Team Europe had already won all three singles matches on Friday, each worth one point, and a singles match on Saturday, only dropping one point during the doubles on the opening day.
The world No 4 was looking to extend his team’s lead, having fallen to Isner and Denis Shapovalov in the doubles, while playing alongside recent Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini.
The pair were neck-and-neck for much of the match, splitting the first two sets 7-6 each before going to a decisive ten-point match tiebreak.
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Having blown break point chances before ultimately losing the second set, Zverev was able to narrowly clinch the victory and give Team Europe a seven-points-to-one lead over Team World, following a dramatic 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 10-5 battle.
After the match, he was interviewed by Jim Courier on court, who noted that there was a moment late in the second set where all of his team-mates gathered around the bench to coach him and give him advice after missing the chance to close out the match.
The 23-year-old then revealed that, while the likes of Medvedev, Rublev and Tsitsipas had been giving him advice from the players’ bench, Federer was also giving him tactical suggestions from his front-row seat in the stands at the baseline.
“I mean my entire team was telling me to step back on the returns then Roger is behind me telling me to step in on the return so then I was confused,” the German said on court.
“I mean I didn’t know who to listen to. You know, do I listen to eight people on the bench or do I listen to 20 Grand Slams over there?”
Zverev admitted he was happy to get the win so he didn’t have to disappoint his current or former teammates, having received opposing pieces of advice.
He added: “At the end of the day I won and that’s the most important, if I would have lost and then somebody would have come up to me ‘we told you this’ yeah but the other person told me that and then it would’ve been a mess.
“But now I’ve won nobody will care about it, nobody will talk about it anymore, that’s the most important thing.”
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