Team World entered Day 3 of the competition with a significant lead of 10-2, requiring just one more match win to clinch the Cup. Frances Tiafoe, who played a crucial role in 2022, was once again instrumental in the victory. This time, he teamed up with 20-year-old newcomer Ben Shelton to defeat Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz in a doubles match with scores of 7-6(4) and 7-6(5).
Tiafoe and Shelton: The Dynamic Duo
The American pair of Tiafoe and Shelton remained undefeated in 2023, winning all three of their matches. However, the success was a team effort. Every player in McEnroe's starting lineup, including Tiafoe, Shelton, Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul, Francisco Cerundolo, and top-ranked Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, contributed at least one point.
McEnroe's Leadership: A Game Changer
The Team World Captain reflected on their journey, emphasizing the team's newfound confidence and belief in their ability to win. He mentioned that despite some initial setbacks, the team was determined to succeed.
The opening set of the match was closely contested and was decided by a tiebreak. During a crucial moment in the tiebreak, with Shelton serving at 6-4, Tiafoe forced an error from Hurkacz, who was playing his third match within 24 hours. Shelton's unique serving style posed challenges for Team Europe. He consistently varied his serve speeds and hit accurate serves. The match concluded with Shelton serving at 6-5 in the second-set tiebreak, leading to a jubilant celebration with his teammates on the court.
At the Trophy presentation and as the applause from the crowd subsided, Team Europe’s Captain, Bjorn Borg, took the microphone. With grace and sportsmanship, he said, "Thank you very much. I would like to congratulate Team World. You guys played unbelievable matches, great tennis... Don't ever think you're going to beat us this early every year, because we'll be back in Europe next year and it's going to be a different story, I hope."
The crowd responded with a mix of cheers and playful boos, appreciating the friendly rivalry.
The Legacy of Rod Laver: McEnroe's Inspiration
Next, Team World’s Captain, John McEnroe, stepped up. With his characteristic passion, he began, "Just want to thank the crowd once again, you’ve been awesome." He turned to his team, pride evident in his eyes, "My team, well done man. I look forward to having you there next year in Berlin." Pausing for a moment, he added, "When they approached me initially about captaining something in the Laver Cup, it was a no-brainer for me. My idol was Rod Laver, he is the man."
The ceremony concluded with the presentation of the Laver Cup to Team World, their joy and camaraderie clear for all to see. As the players lifted the trophy high, the crowd erupted in cheers, marking the end of a memorable tournament.