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Djokovic key to giving Europe big lead in Laver Cup on return to action

By Ryan Benson

London, September 25: Novak Djokovic played a vital role in Team Europe opening up a four-point lead in the Laver Cup as he won in singles and doubles upon his return to the ATP Tour after a three-month absence.

Djokovic had not played since taking his grand slam count to 21 with the Wimbledon title in July, but he looked as if he had hardly been away as the Serbian beat Frances Tiafoe and then teamed up with Matteo Berrettini in the doubles.

Tiafoe beat Rafael Nadal at the US Open earlier this month and combined with Jack Sock on Friday to defeat the Spaniard again in what was Roger Federer's last ever match, but the American could not get to grips with Djokovic in Saturday's final singles contest.

Djokovic's 6-1 6-3 win secured two points for Team Europe to put them out in front, and he was involved again in the last of the day's action as the team's advantage doubled to four points.

Berrettini and Djokovic tussled with Sock and Alex de Minaur and ultimately had too much, winning 7-5 6-2 in less than an hour and a half.

Earlier, Taylor Fritz's three-set triumph over Cameron Norrie put Team World briefly back on level terms.

Fritz made a brutal start but ended up being forced to a match tie-break, eventually coming through with a 6-1 4-6 10-8 victory.

That wiped out the two-point lead Berrettini had given Europe in the first match of the day, with the Italian edging Saturday's most gruelling tussle.

He saw off Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (13-11) 4-6 10-7, and despite finding himself on court for over two hours, Berrettini was still sharp enough to emerge victorious alongside Djokovic.

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Story first published: Sunday, September 25, 2022, 7:47 [IST]
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