Casper Ruud upheld a Laver Cup tradition on Friday as the two-time Grand Slam finalist earned the opening point for Team Europe in London.
The world No. 2 who played both Paris and New York finals this season, held off Jack Sock 6-4, 5-7, 10-7 to send Europe into a 1-0 lead over Team World.
It marked the fifth time in as many Laver editions that the old continent had taken the early lead over the Rest of the EWorld; Europe has won all four previous editions of the event.
Ruud was motoring at the O2 arena as he led by a set but lost serve in the 11th game of the second set as American journeyman Sock – playing only his 18th match of the season – managed to steal the second set.
The Norwegian reacted quickly, winning six straight points in the super-tiebreak final set as he emerged victorious in just under two hours on a first match point, a forehand to the empty corner.
“The margins were on my side in the tiebreak,” the winner said. “it was just a few points either way.
“Everyone is nervous when you are playing for something extra special.
“I”m happy to get Europe off to the best start.”
Ruud, who made his Laver debut last year in Boston, duplicated his fast start out of the games in the opening match of the weekend.
“I learned a little bit last year when I played the event. We’ve got a group of young, hungry guys. We are ready for many years of good tennis.
“I hope I can be one of those guys.”
The Europe team is stacked with talent, featuring the Big 4 of Roger Federer – playing his last career match later in doubles with Rafeal Nadal – along with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
The goodbye for Federer promises to be dramatic and heart-wrenching as one of the best to ever play the game retires after three knee surgeries.
“It will be very emotional, even if there have been a lot of laughs and smiles on the team so far,” Ruud said.
“I’m sure there will be some tears when Roger steps off the court for the lsst time.
“He’s one of the all-time greats – and not just in tennis
“I’m lucky to be able to witness everything from up close. I’m sure the people in the stans will have one of the best times of their lives.”