Laver Cup day one recap: Tiebreaks dominate matches as Team Europe starts out strongly

Nine total tiebreaks in the opening day saw Team Europe fly out to a 3-0 lead before Kyrgios and Sock grabbed a late doubles point for Team World.

Laver Cup day one recap: Tiebreaks dominate matches as Team Europe starts out strongly
Captain Bjorn Borg hugs Dominic Thiem after overcoming John Isner (Julian Finney.Getty Iamges)

Day one of the Laver Cup saw plenty of big serves take to the court. In three singles matches, we saw a total of six tiebreak sets and one match tiebreak. Team Europe fired out to a 3-0 lead as it was up to the pair of Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios to try and salvage a point for John McEnroe's Team World side against Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych.

It took a match tiebreak in the doubles, but Sock and Kyrgios earned McEnroe's side their first point of the tournament as Europe led 3-1 after the first day of play. 

Cilic Edges Tiafoe

Francis Tiafoe was a last minute call-up due to Juan Martin del Potro withdrawing from the exhibition event, having yet to fully recover from his illness at the US Open. The American was tasked with trying to earn the point of the event against Marin Cilic.

The opening set saw very few chances to break, one for each man to be exact. In the opening set tiebreak, the Croat took the early lead before Tiafoe brought it back on serve at 2-3. However, Cilic ran away with it after that, taking four of the next five points to take the breaker 7-3.

Tiafoe struck first blood on the return of serve, breaking Cilic for a 3-1 lead, a game after saving a couple of break points himself. He held for 4-1 before giving the break back at 3-4. Both men held serve the rest of the way for another tiebreak. Cilic ran away with the breaker this time around, taking it without dropping a point for Team Europe's first point.

Tiafoe and Cilic shake hands after their match (Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Tiafoe and Cilic shake hands after their match (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Thiem Overcomes Deficit To Beat Isner

American John Isner was next to take the stage for John McEnroe's Team World side as he faced Dominic Thiem. With Isner, you knew tiebreaks were on the horizon because of his powerful service game and lack of a return game.

As expected, not one break point chance was seen in the opening set as the two went into a tiebreak. It will most likely be the tournament's most exhilarating breaker as they each traded blows on serve with neither giving an inch. It was Thiem who blinked first in the end as the American took the opening set 7-6(15). 

Thiem had the first looks at break points in the second but could not convert and was forced to crucially save three of them in the 11th game to keep his nose ahead. The Austrian found himself easing through the tiebreak this time around, dropping only two points.

In the match tiebreak, the American found himself 4-0 up but missed his spot on a serve that allowed Thiem to rip a winner to get his first point of the breaker. He rode the momentum of that winner, never looking back, winning 9 of the last 12 points to give Europe a 2-0 lead.

Team Europe reacts to Thiem's match against Isner (Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Team Europe reacts to Thiem's match against Isner (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Zverev Edges Shapovalov In Montreal Rematch

Two young phenoms took to the court in the third singles match as Alexander Zverev met Denis Shapovalov. This was a rematch of their semifinal showdown in the Rogers Cup where the Canadian teen made a huge run while the German claimed his second Masters title. 

With the experience that Shapovalov took from both the Rogers Cup and the US Open, he would not be afraid of the German at all on this stage. He nearly fell behind in the opening set, saving two break points from 15-40 down in his second service game. However, he had a chance to steal the set on the Zverev serve but was unable to convert. The world number four cruised in the first set tiebreak, taking it 7-2.

The Canadian had a trouble in a couple of his service games in the second set, saving first break points and then match points later in the set. Despite that, he was unable to hold off the German in the tiebreak as Team Europe took a commanding 3-0 lead with only the doubles match to play.

Zverev and Shapovalov shake hands (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Zverev and Shapovalov shake hands (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Zverev/Sock Salvage a Point For Team World

Berdych and Nadal came out for Team Europe trying to sweep the opening day of play but Sock and Kyrgios wanted to be sure their team had a point heading into the second day of play where each win was worth two points.

We were arguably seeing two of the best doubles players who also perform well in singles with Sock and Nadal with some even saying Team World holding the slight advantage with Kyrgios over Berdych. The first set saw the first and only non-tiebreak of day one as the American-Australian duo broke for a 4-2 lead and did not look back in the first set.

The second set was much different as Berdych and Nadal were much more comfortable on serve and even held two break points but could not convert. They dominated the tiebreak as Team World did not have a single set point en route to a 9-7 second set tiebreak victory to force a match tiebreak. 

The match tiebreak saw the teams trade mini-breaks early and often, but some huge winners from Kyrgios and Sock set the tone for the rest of the breaker. Tied at seven-all, the American-Australian pair finished the match off with three straight points to take a lone point for McEnroe's side.

Kyrgios and Sock celebrate their win with the classic Bryan Brothers chest bump (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Kyrgios and Sock celebrate their win with the classic Bryan Brothers chest bump (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)