Team Europe was braced on Sunday for a second consecutive annual defeat in Laver Cup play after World ran up a massive 10-2 lead in Day 2 matches in Vancouver.
The side headed by captain Bjorn Borg which won the first four editions of the competitions starting in 2017, was faxing humiliation for a second consecutive year.
Casper Ruud gave Europe its first points of the weekend, defeating Tommy Paul 7-6 (6), 6-2. But that win prove to be the day’s highlight for the side.
“I really thought that it’s time to play maybe the best match of the year and it wasn’t far away,” the Norwegian said.
American Ben Shelton and Canada; Felix Auger-Aliassime put John McEnroe’s World within touching distance of the title with a 7-5, 6-4 defeat of Hubert Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.
“When you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix and is as athletic and strong as him. It is a fun time out here,” Shelton said.
“We call him Laver Cup Felix because he turns into something special this week. I’m happy I got to share the court with him at least once.”
Between retirements and injury, the Laver Cup has begun losing its lustre with the likes of (retired) Roger Federer, (injured) Rafael Nadal and (resting) Novak Djokovic absent.
Drawcards are thin on the ground at the Canadian edition of the event.
American Frances Tiafoe also contributed a win, beating Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3.
“Being in a team environment is so foreign to us tennis players,” The American said.
“It’s such an individual sport. But I just came out and I just want to compete for the guys and play well for the guys. I want to put on a show.”
The winner reversed a three-match losing streak in singles, firing 11 aces in victory in 73 minutes.
Taylor Fritz chipped in a World defeat of Andrey Rublev 6-2, 7-6 (3) to avenge a loss last spring in Monte Carlo.
“Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game,” the winner said.
“My record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up.
“I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”