Alex de Minaur has won 5-7, 6-3, 7-10 over Andy Murray in a first-to-10 match tiebreak. A bit of a slow starter, but it featured some very high quality over the last half hour. In fighting back from a set down, the 23-year-old Aussie has delivered a desperately needed point for Team World, who did not want to fall into a 3-0 hole right out of the gate.
A quick refresher on the Laver Cup format and where things stand ahead of tonight’s nightcap. A team-based, three-day event conceived as an equivalent to golf’s Ryder Cup, the competition consists of three singles and one doubles match daily. One point is awarded per win on day one, two points per win on day two and three points per win on day three.
Team Europe have won all five editions so far, though the title was decided in the 12th and final match on two occasions. Federer clinched the trophy in 2017 and Alexander Zverev did the same in 2019.
The Europeans are already out to a 2-0 lead in this year’s event after Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas pocketed singles wins in today’s afternoon session over Jack Sock and Diego Schwartzman, respectively.
Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all playing on Team Europe together for the first time. The Big Three, as they are widely known, have combined to win 63 of the last 77 grand slam championships (Nadal 22, Djokovic 21, Federer 20).
De Minaur has just taken the second set in his ongoing match with Murray. Under the rules, the match will be decided by a 10-point tiebreaker rather than a full third set, meaning tonight’s main event should be off and running by the top of the hour.
Hello and welcome to the O2 Arena for the final match of Roger Federer’s storied career. The 41-year-old Swiss great, who hasn’t competed since a quarter-final loss at Wimbledon to Hubert Hurkacz in July 2021, announced last week that he’s walking away from professional tennis following a series of operations on his right knee that made his long-sought comeback to the men’s tour untenable.
And so he’s bidding farewell tonight in London at the team event founded by his management company alongside his longtime rival and friend Rafael Nadal. The twosome are due to compete for Team Europe against the Team World doubles pairing of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock.
It’s not the first time Federer and Nadal have featured on the same side of the court: they won a doubles match together in the first edition of the Laver Cup back in 2017. But they are far better known for their roles in one of the great rivalries in the history of sport. They’ve met a total of 40 times in singles (with Nadal winning 26), including 14 times at grand slam tournaments (with the Spaniard winning 10), none more memorable than their epochal showdown in the 2008 Wimbledon final.
“I saw him playing on TV before I arrived on tour. I saw him having success on TV, and then (we were) able to create an amazing rivalry together,” Nadal said yesterday. “And on the other hand, something that probably we are very proud of is having a friendly rivalry. Tomorrow is going to be a special thing. Difficult. Going to be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger, without a doubt. But for me, too. At the end, one of the most important players – if not the most important player – in my tennis career is leaving.”
Federer and Nadal will take the court after the conclusion of the night’s first fixture, a singles meeting between Team Europe’s Andy Murray and Team World’s Alex de Minaur that’s currently in the second set.
Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s Tumaini Carayol’s lookahead to Federer’s swansong tonight in London.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – a group of the three greatest men’s tennis players of all time and the four defining competitors of the generation – were packed tightly together for their Laver Cup press conference on Thursday, when they all converged for the final time as professionals.
As they reminisced on their old matches and laughed about shared memories, glorious or devastating depending on the perspective, Federer interjected: “Sitting here, it feels good that I go first from the guys,” he said, smiling. “It just feels right.”
In many ways this final chapter of Federer’s career is bleak. Despite his reputation for avoiding serious injury through his career, his final years have been ravaged by physical problems. Unlike the recent intense, competitive departure of Serena Williams Federer cannot trust his knee to last more than one short doubles match. In his final bout alongside Nadal, his Team Europe teammate, he will enter the O2 Arena against Team World’s Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock on Friday night simply hoping to compete at a respectable level.
But the circumstances are fitting. He will be seen off by three of the toughest opponents of his life, players who with him have defined this past decade and a half of tennis, pushing it forward in so many ways. Between them they have won 66 grand slam titles, faced off against each other 234 times and spent 933 weeks at No 1. For over a decade they packed out the later stages of each major event and blocked nearly all others from succeeding.
“Tomorrow’s gonna be a special thing,” said Nadal. “I think very difficult, difficult one. Gonna be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger, without a doubt. For me too. At the end one of the most important players, if not most important player in my tennis career, is leaving, no?”