GENEVA: Rafael Nadal defeated Milos Raonic in his first match since his US Open triumph to hand Europe a 7-3 lead after the singles ties on the second day of the Laver Cup in Geneva on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Nadal overcame Canada’s Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) after Roger Federer edged out Nick Kyrgios in a super tie-break, leaving Europe well positioned for a third victory in as many editions over Team World.
The Spaniard, who beat Daniil Medvedev in an epic five-set final at Flushing Meadows for his 19th Grand Slam title, defended eight break points in the first set against Raonic.
He then broke the world number 24 in game seven and again to seal the set. The pair exchanged breaks midway through the second set before Nadal dominated the tie-break.
“I feel very lucky,” said Nadal. “I think he deserved that first set for sure. Later in the match I think I started to play a little bit better.
“Very happy to help Team Europe,” he added. “It’s a great team spirit, that’s why we were able to achieve two Laver Cups the two previous editions.
“There remains a lot of work to do so we need to be together, we need to help each other.”
Nadal will team up with Stefanos Tsitsipas to face Kyrgios and Jack Sock in the doubles to conclude Saturday’s action.
Earlier, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer, who won his first match alongside Alexander Zverev in Friday’s doubles tie, beat Australian Kyrgios 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 10-7 to the delight of his 17,000-strong home crowd.
“The crowd could feel it, I could feel it. I needed to get some energy going but you can’t do that if you don’t play any good shots and Nick was playing very well,” said Federer.
“I was just trying to stay focused. If you can turn the momentum, the crowd gets back into it and I need some earplugs next time, it was just phenomenal.”
Bjorn Borg’s holders had seen Team World draw level with John Isner’s victory over Zverev.
Isner fought back from a set down to beat Zverev 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 10-1 and haul Team World level at 3-3 after Europe led by two points after the opening day.
The scoring system sees one point awarded for each win on the first day, two points given for each victory on the second day, and three points on offer in each match on Sunday’s final day.
This year is the first time the tournament has been played since being added to the ATP Tour.
Europe won the 2018 edition 13-8 in Chicago.