Vancouver [Canada], September 23 (ANI): Ben Shelton and Francisco Cerundolo earned victories for Team World in their Laver Cup debuts and helped their team take an early 2-0 lead against Team Europe after winning their respective matches.
In the first match of the tie, Shelton registered a 7-6(4), 6-1 straight-set triumph against Team Europe's Arthur Fils. In another match, Argentina's Cerundolo defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-5 to help defending champion Team World take an early 2-0 lead in the first-to-13 event.
The American was happy to prove those naysayers wrong with his breakout semi-final run at the US Open, and he continued to repay John McEnroe's faith on Friday with a straight-sets victory.
Shelton revelled in the team environment, constantly interacting with the Vancouver crowd and the Team World bench throughout his opening victory.
"It's been amazing. 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," Shelton was quoted as saying by ATP.
Only one point was scored against serve in the first six games of a close first set in which neither player had a breakpoint. With the help of powerful forehands on the indoor hard court, both players quickly achieved success.
Shelton won the opening set thanks to his effectiveness in rallies, while Fils' mistakes lost him the tie-break advantage. Shelton dominated set two, creating break points in each of the three return games and converted on two of them while enjoying the security of the lead.
"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. 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," he said.
Cerundolo's thrilling victory over Spain's Davidovich Fokina gave his team the day-session win. The Argentina player's strategy was based on his powerful forehand. The Argentine kept his opponent under pressure with power and consistency off the ground while being less effective on serve than Shelton (who won 54 per cent of first-serve points).
Davidovich Fokina put up a valiant effort to keep the score close, blocking his opponent's attempts to serve out the first set at 5-1 and the second at 5-4. Cerundolo made excellent decisions in both situations. The Argentine used drop shots on back-to-back games to break from the deuce at 5-5 and then served out the victory from 15/30 on the second attempt as Team Europe sensed a comeback late in the match.
The Argentine claimed to have gained 12 points in the frontcourt while feeling McEnroe's impact from the sidelines.
"To be honest, I went to the net a lot of times. I never go. Probably because I saw John there, I tried to copy him a little bit, and I made some good points. I hope he's happy with my volleys, at least a little bit," the Argentine said.
The home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime will take on Team Europe's Gael Monfils before Americans Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe play Fils and Andrey Rublev in doubles. (ANI)